Microsoft is partnering with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Computer Sciences Department to open an advanced database research laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. The Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab is named in honor of Jim Gray, a Microsoft Technical Fellow who significantly affected the database industry and disappeared at sea January 28, 2007.
The lab will be headed up by David DeWitt, the former Computer Sciences Department chairman and professor, who recently joined Microsoft as a Technical Fellow and director of the lab. According to DeWitt, the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab will provide UW-Madison computer science graduate students with the opportunity to explore “fundamental database issues.” "More specifically, the Lab will perform advanced development on Microsoft codebases to generate ideas about future directions for data management. We will be developing these ideas to the point where they can be implemented. The Lab will work closely with Microsoft researchers in Redmond and other locations. The Lab will follow a flexible model of innovation and incubation in which the Lab’s staff will coordinate its work with Microsoft’s core development teams, to ensure that we maximize the opportunity for learning and future integration," said DeWitt.
According to Brian Mattmiller with UW-Madison's University Communications department, the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab will open later this spring with six full-time employees. In addition, Microsoft will fund several graduate research assistantships in UW-Madison's Computer Sciences Department.
So why did Microsoft choose to partner with UW-Madison's Computer Science Department? Well, not only has the school produced some very well-known database experts, but also has made significant advances in the database industry in the past 30 years. For example, in 1984, the Gamma Parallel Database System Project (http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=627398) was launched by a UW-Madison research group, which happened to be run by DeWitt. According to Mattmiller, the project "produced most of the core technologies in commercial use today by companies such as IBM, NCR Teradata, Netezza, Greenplum, Vertica, and Microsoft."
To see DeWitt's interview with Microsoft's PressPass, go to http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2008/apr08/04-23DeWitt.mspx. For more information about this partnership, see Mattmiller's article "UW’s computing research prowess brings Microsoft to Madison" at http://www.news.wisc.edu/15097