Michael Stonebraker

From Academic Kids

Michael Stonebraker is a computer scientist specializing in database research and development. His career covers, and helped create, the majority of the existing relational database market today. He is also the founder of Ingres, Illustra and StreamBase Systems, and was previously the CTO of Informix. He is also an editor for the book Readings in Database Systems.

Stonebraker earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1965. From the University of Michigan, he earned his master's degree in 1967 and his Ph.D. in 1971. He has received several awards, including the IEEE John von Neumann Medal.

Michael Stonebraker is currently teaching at MIT.



In 1973 Stonebraker and his colleague Eugene Wong decided to start researching relational database systems after reading a series of seminal papers published by IBM. By the mid-1970s they had produced, using a rotating team of student programmers, a usable system known as Ingres. At the time Ingres was considered "low end" compared to IBM's similar effort, System R, as it ran on Unix-based DEC machines as opposed to the "big iron" IBM mainframes.

However by the early 1980s the performance and capabilities of these low-end machines was seriously threatening IBM's mainframe market, and with it came the ability of Ingres to be a "real" product for a large number of applications. Ingres was offered using a variation of the BSD license for a nominal fee, and soon a number of companies took advantage of this to create commercial versions of Ingres.

This included Stonebraker, who left Berkeley in 1982 to help found Ingres Corporation, which was later sold to Computer Associates and continues to be offered today. After the sale in 1984, Stonebraker returned to Berkeley.


Upon his return he started a "post-ingres" effort to address the limitations of the relational model, naming the new project Postgres. Postgres offered a number of features that effectively made the database "understand" the data inside it, dramatically improving programmability. Postgres was also offered using a BSD-like license, and the code forms the basis of today's free software, PostgreSQL.

Once again Stonebraker left Berkeley in 1992 to commercialize the code, creating Illustra. At first the product seems to have been generally ignored, but a second release in 1995 added a new plug-in system known as DataBlades that were unique. The effect on the industry was dramatic, so much so that Illustra was soon purchased by Informix, who folded the code into their flagship product line.


Mike Stonebraker moved to MIT in the late 1990's and set up a project called Aurora. Aurora is about data management for streaming data, using a SQL variant called StreamSQL. StreamBase Systems (http://www.streambase.com) is the company he founded to commercialize the technology.

Additional Work

On his second return to academia, he initiated the Mariposa project which probably became the basis of Cohera which was subsequently sold to PeopleSoft.

External links


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