Dijkstra Fellowship for Marcin Żukowski

CWI has elected Marcin Żukowski for the 2024 Dijkstra Fellowship. With this honorary title, CWI recognizes his pioneering role in the development of database management systems that had great societal impact, and his successful entrepreneurial career. The Fellowship will be awarded on Thursday 21 November.

Publication date
25 Jun 2024

Marcin Żukowski started his career at CWI. He did his MSc and PhD research on database management system architectures in our Database Architectures (DA) group. As a PhD student under the supervision of Peter Boncz, he developed the innovative concept of vectorized execution to improve the performance of database queries. This research received the DaMoN 2007 Best Paper Award and also the CIDR 2024 Test of Time Award, established by the Conference on Innovative Data Systems Research (CIDR).

After his PhD, Żukowski co-founded CWI spin-off VectorWise (now Actian), turning his research into a high performance and highly scalable analytical database system. It became the blueprint for analytical databases, that is still widely used. After yielding a rapid technological and commercial growth, he left the company in 2012 to co-found Snowflake in Silicon Valley. Snowflake offered the first cloud-based data warehousing service that is truly designed for the cloud. Notable features are that it is an ‘elastically’ growing and shrinking system based on how busy it is, separating computation from storage, and automating many administration and configuration tasks. Snowflake uses vectorized query execution and lightweight compression methods in its columnar data storage, two techniques that were co-designed by Żukowski during his PhD years at CWI.

Role model

After leaving Snowflake earlier this year, Marcin Żukowski stays connected with academia by supervising students, publishing papers and taking part in computer science events. He is also an investor and advisor, supporting technology development and innovation in his home country Poland.

“Marcin is an excellent example of how to apply CWI's mission in practice. He used his PhD research at CWI to create versatile foundational software products that are now widely used, and shares his knowledge and experience with the public and in particular with young technology entrepreneurs”, CWI director Ton de Kok says.

About the Dijkstra Fellowship

The Dijkstra Fellowship is named after former CWI researcher Edsger W. Dijkstra, who was one of the most influential scientists in the history of CWI. Dijkstra developed the shortest path algorithm, among other contributions.

Save the date

The Dijkstra Fellowship will be awarded on Thursday 21 November 2024 at CWI. Speakers and programme of the day will be announced later this year.

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