Prof. Abadi Wins VLDB 10-Year Best Paper Award

Departments: Computer Science

Sometimes it's hard to know just how important something is right away - remember when "Citizen Kane" lost to "How Green Was My Valley" for Best Picture? But with some time to reflect, we get a better sense of its impact on the world. 

That's why the Very Large Data Base Endowment Inc. (VLDB), an organization that promotes scholarly work on databases and related fields throughout the world, came up with the VLDB 10-Year Best Paper Award. And this year, it goes to Daniel J. Abadi, Associate Professor of Computer Science, and a team of researchers who authored “C-Store: A Column-oriented DBMS. It was published in Proceedings of VLDB in 2005.

The paper proposed a database management system that differed sharply from approaches that were common 10 years ago. Among the many differences in the design of C-Store is that it stores data by column rather than by row, which allows it to quickly manage very large volumes of data.

According to the VLDB selection committee, winning papers are those that were submitted 10 years earlier to the journal VLDB Proceedings and have best met the "test of time" - that is, those that have had the most influence since its publication. How the ideas proposed in the paper have been put into practice are given special emphasis. 

To that end, C-Store has since been commercialized by a start-up company called Vertica. The company's service has been used by thousands of businesses across the world, including Twitter, Verizon, Comcast, Groupon, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Zynga, and AOL. It's been used, for instance, to develop a data-driven approach to building indices of wildlife communities in tropical forests. In 2011, Vertica was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2011 and has continued to be a successful business.

Abadi's research interests are in database system architecture and implementation, cloud computing, and the Semantic Web. Before joining the Yale computer science faculty, he spent four years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. Other honors Abadi has received include an NSF CAREER Award and a Sloan Research Fellowship.