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Issue 061: Databases

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Issue 061: Databases

Welcome to the sixty-first issue of De Programmatica Ipsum, about Databases. In this edition, we show why PostgreSQL is the greatest relational database system ever released; in the Library section, we review the impressive bibliography of C. J. Date; and in our Vidéothèque section, we watch the Turing Award acceptance speech of Michael Stonebraker.

The Elephant In The Room

We have often highlighted in the pages of this magazine the seemingly never-ending sequence of fashion waves hitting the software industry. We have discussed in 2020 the one impacting type systems, and more recently, another one concerning object-oriented programming. What is important in both cases is not the details of the technologies per se, but the social mechanisms at play in both situations. In this edition, we will encounter yet another example of such a clash, this time concerning relational database management systems, or RDBMS for short.

Michael Stonebraker

Since the first Turing Award in 1966 (Alan J. Perlis) until the last one at the time of this writing (Robert Metcalfe), there have been four laureates related to database technology. First, Charles W. Bachman in 1973, for "his outstanding contributions to database technology." Then, Ted Codd in 1981, for "his fundamental and continuing contributions to the theory and practice of database management systems." Third, Jim Gray in 1998 for "seminal contributions to database and transaction processing research and technical leadership in system implementation." Finally, Michael Stonebraker in 2014, for "fundamental contributions to the concepts and practices underlying modern database systems."

Christopher J. Date

As much as the NoSQL pundits would like to make us think otherwise, learning about relational database technologies is still, and hopefully will still be, a staple of computer science education in the years to come. There are quite a few authors considered as references in the field, but without any doubt, the subject of this month's Library article is by far the most prolific of them all.

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