Stratos Idreos from the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam won the 2011 ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award for his thesis ‘Database Cracking: Towards Auto-tuning Database Kernels’ on 15 June. This annual prize is awarded to doctoral candidates who have performed excellent research in the database field. Nominated dissertations were evaluated for technical depth and significance of the research contribution, potential impact on theory and practice, and quality of the presentation.
Idreos developed a technology called ‘database cracking’. Most common database search methods set up a search index and record what people search for. The disadvantage of this is that production and maintenance take up time of the administrator. Database cracking is the first technique in which the system takes over the role of the administrator and in which the system itself has an adaptive capacity. On 24 June 2010, Idreos defended his PhD thesis at the University of Amsterdam.
The cracking technology does not create a search strategy upfront, but reorganizes the data in such a way that future queries have faster access. In order to find the two of hearts in a disordered deck of playing cards, for example, the system may create a pile with hearts cards and a pile with non-hearts cards. A following search to all the clubs has to look only into the pile of non-hearts. No search index needs to be developed, so the new technology saves time and money. It was implemented in the Sloan Digital Sky Server, a database for astronomers, and speeded up the search process by a factor ten to twenty.
Picture 1: Stratos Idreos at his PhD ceremony in 2010.
Picture 2: Stratos Idreos with the SIGMOD award. Picture: Erietta Liarou, CWI.
Picture 3: Stratos Idreos receiving the SIGMOD award from Beng Chin Ooi, co-chair of the Award Committee. Picture: Stefan Manegold, CWI.
Picture 4: Idreos at the SIGMOD award ceremony. Picture: Erietta Liarou, CWI.