Michael Carey


2005 SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award

Since receiving his doctorate in 1983 Carey has made numerous fundamental contributions to the database system field in a large number of different areas including (1) concurrency control, (2) database performance evaluation, (3) object-oriented and object-relational database systems, and (4) XML query processing. Over the past 20+ years, he had published more papers in the two premier database conferences (SIGMOD and VLDB) than almost anyone else.

Carey’s early research program focused on the performance of alternative concurrency control algorithms through extensive, simulation-based studies. The results of these studies clearly demonstrated the superiority of two-phase locking compared to the numerous alternate techniques that had been proposed. His results also demonstrated why locking can always be expected to have superior performance – conflicts are resolved by having transactions wait instead of aborting. Carey’s research in this area yielded important results in the areas of index locking as well as the design, implementation, and evaluation of locking and consistency protocols for client-server database systems.

Carey’s academic research program has also made seminal contributions in the areas of database-system performance evaluation, through the development of benchmarks for object-oriented and object-relational database systems. The OO7 benchmark was the first comprehensive benchmark for evaluating object-oriented database systems and served to illustrate many of the strengths and weaknesses of commercial object-oriented database systems. It remains the standard benchmark in this area and served as the model on which benchmarks for object-relational system were originally designed.

Among his many papers on the design and implementation of object-oriented database systems, two papers have received special recognition through “test-of-time” awards for their lasting impact on the database systems field. His 1986 paper on the design of large objects in Exodus and their performance received the 1996 VLDB Conference “10-Year Best Paper Award.” His 1994 paper describing the architecture of SHORE received the 2004 SIGMOD “Test of Time Award”.

A third area where Carey’s research program has had significant impact on our field is in the design and implementation of object-relational database systems. Soon after moving from academia to industry, Carey assumed the job of heading IBM’s efforts to add object-relational features to the DB2 product line, including support for extended types such as text, images, and extended type constructors such as set-valued attributes. Recently, Carey’s primary focus has been on the design and implementation of database systems capable of executing queries written in XQUERY against high-volume streaming XML data sets. Carey has continued to contribute to the field through a steady stream of publications, serving both as a model for industrial papers, as well as providing academic with insight into the industrial world.