Alexander Thomson (PhD 2013, Computer Science) has won the 2015 SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award for his study, titled “Deterministic Transaction Execution in Distributed Database Systems,” advised by Daniel Abadi.
Thomson’s thesis proposes a novel system architecture to address a challenging problem in distributed database systems, namely providing scalable support for transactions. His transformative concept is considered “surprisingly simple,” and involves choosing the serialization order of transactions up front, and executing the transactions according to this order.
According to the committee that selected Thomson for the award, “Deterministic execution reduces the amount of coordination required for distributed transactions, which significantly improves scalability. Thomson develops this idea into a complete system and shows that it is remarkably effective for distributed databases and also for file systems. The work is innovative and combines sound principles with solid design and implementation, resulting in a thesis that has already made its mark on the database community.”
The annual SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Award recognizes excellent research by doctoral candidates in the database field. Dissertations nominated for the prize were evaluated for technical depth, significance of the research contribution, potential impact on theory and practice, and quality of the presentation.
Thomson is currently a software engineer at Google.