Portrait of Jim Gray

Jim Gray

Technical Fellow


Dr. Gray joined Microsoft in 1995 as a Technical Fellow, researcher, and manager of the Bay Area Research Center. His primary research interests were large databases and transaction processing systems. He had a long-standing interest in scalable computing, building super-servers and work group systems from commodity software and hardware. His work since 2002 focused on eScience: applying computers to solve data-intensive scientific problems. This is being posited as the fourth paradigm of science after experimentation, theory, and simulation.

Jim pioneered database technology and was among the first to develop the technology used in computerized transactions. His work helped develop e-commerce, online ticketing, and automated teller machines. His later work on database technology has been used by oceanographers, geologists, and astronomers. Among his accomplishments at Microsoft are the TerraServer website and his work on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Microsoft's World Wide Telescope software is dedicated to Jim.

On January 28, 2007, Jim disappeared at sea. In May 2008, a formal tribute and technical session was held at Jim's alma mater, UC Berkeley. Hundreds of his friends and colleagues gathered together to celebrate his life, his friendships, and his achievements in the field of computer science.




Public service

Publication Boards

Advisory Boards

Program Committees



External publications

Articles recommended by Jim Gray

Vannevar Bush’s paper: As We May Think, the 1945 Atlantic Monthly piece that is the manifesto for Information At Your Fingertips and also the Internet. In that same time Bush also wrote Science’s social contract: Science, The Endless Frontier that has guided US Science policy since then.

Ed Lazowska (U. Washington) faculty lecture on Computer Science, a more modern discussion of the social contract with a focus on computer science.

Alan Newell on how to do research (one hour video lecture) Desires and Diversions. Sage advice for scientists on how to live our professional lives.

Michael Lesk’s paper on “How much information is there in the world?”

Andrew Odlyzko has a fascinating and insightful series of articles on online publishing: His papers are what got me started on my goal of getting all scientific literature on the web.

Richard Feynman’s paper: There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, explaining that computers could be very small (this predates VLSI) and the wonderful 1982 Feynman Lectures on Computationedited by Tony Hey and Robin Allen: Perseus Books; ISBN: 0738202967 that talks about how much energy, space, and time computations should take (close to zero), and an inscrutable (to me) introduction to quantum computing. There is also an out-of-print follow-on Feynman and Computation, Exploring the Limits of Computers edited by Tony Hey, ISBN: 0738200573.

Dave Patterson’s talk on Intelligent Disks and a more recent article just talking about disk evolution: Brian Hayes “Terabyte Territory,” American Scientist, V. 90, May 2002, pp. 202-208

A nice historical piece on Moore’s law (90KB html) a 1996 student papers by Bob Schaller explaining the history of the law and some of its implications.

What Next Revealed a talk by Adi Porobic on technology trends and a technolgoy forecast May 2002 (2 MB).