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UW CSE’s Paris Koutris, Alvin Cheung recognized by ACM SIGMOD

Paris KoutrisThe Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on the Management of Data (SIGMOD) announced that UW CSE Ph.D. alum Paris Koutris is the recipient of this year’s Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award. UW CSE professor Alvin Cheung’s MIT Ph.D. dissertation was recognized with an Honorable Mention. The award recognizes outstanding Ph.D. dissertations in the data management field.

Koutris, who completed his Ph.D. working with professor Dan Suciu in the UW Database Group before joining the faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison last fall, received the award for his dissertation titled “Query Processing for Massively Parallel Systems.” In the dissertation, Koutris explores the fundamental problem of query processing for modern massively parallel architectures—a critical issue in the age of big data—and proposes a theoretical framework, the Massively Parallel Computation model or MPC, to analyze the performance of parallel algorithms for query processing. Using the MPC model, Koutris illustrates a method for designing novel algorithms and techniques for query processing and for proving their optimality.

Alvin CheungAs SIGMOD noted in its award citation, “The work stands out by the elegance of its models, applicable to numerous contemporary large-scale data processing platforms, and for its fundamental results related to the complexity of parallel processing in this setting. It will help advance our community’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities raised by large-scale distributed data management.”

Cheung earned an Honorable Mention for his MIT dissertation “Rethinking the Application-Database Interface,” in which he demonstrated how to improve the performance of database applications by multiple orders of magnitude by considering the programming system and database management system in tandem and by applying a combination of declarative database optimization and modern program analysis and synthesis techniques. MIT previously recognized Cheung’s work with its George M. Sprowls Award for the outstanding dissertation in computer science.

We can’t resist noting that Dan Suciu’s student Chris Re (now on the faculty at Stanford, and formerly on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin) received the 2010 Jim Gray Award, and that his student Gerome Miklau (now on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst) received the 2006 Jim Gray Award. Oh – and his student Nilesh Dalvi (founder of, previously Facebook and Yahoo! Research) received an Honorable Mention in 2008.

Way to go, Paris and Alvin – and Dan!

May 17, 2016