School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

James N. Gray
  • James N. Gray
  • Born: 1944
  • Field: Computer science; computer software; databases; programming languages
  • Focus: Contributed groundbreaking research and development in the areas of database and transaction-processing technology, including SQL.
  • Country: United States
  • Era: 1990 to present

Jim Gray has contributed an enormous amount to the evolution and use of databases and transaction processing. Over the course of his career, Gray contributed to the architecture and development of several major database and transaction-processing systems while working as a software engineer for such companies as Bell Laboratories, IBM (where he worked with Ted Codd), Tandem, and DEC. Since 1995, he has been a distinguished engineer for Microsoft Research.

Gray was one of the premier inventors of transactions, which are collections of actions that coordinate a single database update. They ensure such concepts as atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability (ACID principles) for distributed client-server computing. With Andreas Reuter, Gray is the author of "Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques" (1992), a work considered the bible of databases and online transaction processing. He is also one of the designers of the Structured Query Language (SQL) for accessing and updating information in databases.

In 1998, Gray was awarded the A.M. Turing Award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) "for seminal contributions to database and transaction processing and technical leadership in system implementation." He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969, where he later worked as a visiting scholar. In addition to "Transaction Processing," he is the author of numerous publications on his areas of expertise.

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