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Society Honors Fagin for Work on Databases

Ronald , is a pioneer in database theory.

Pages: pp. 105-106

Ronald Fagin was recently named the recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's 2012 W. Wallace McDowell Award.

The Society presents the McDowell Award, sometimes referred to as the "IT Nobel," to recognize outstanding recent theoretical, design, educational, practical, or other similar innovative contributions that fall within the scope of Society interests. Winners receive a certificate and a $2,000 honorarium.

One of computing's most prestigious individual honors, this award boasts a long list of notable past recipients that reads like a who's who of industry giants. They include Fortran creator John W. Backus (1967); supercomputer pioneers Seymour Cray (1968), Gene Amdahl (1976), and Ken Kennedy (1995); IBM mainframe computer architect Frederick Brooks (1970); Intel cofounder Gordon Moore (1978); algorithm analysis pioneer Donald Knuth (1980); microprocessor inventor Federico Faggin (1994); World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee (1996); and Lotus Notes creator and Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie (2000).

Achievements and Contributions

Fagin's award citation reads, "For fundamental and lasting contributions to the theory of databases."

His first major contribution to relational database theory was the introduction of Fourth Normal Form, which captures crucial desirable aspects of database design. Fagin also devised several algorithms for combining information from multiple sources. This work significantly influenced the design of the query-processing component of the IBM InfoSphere Federation Server, and the design and implementation of the parametric search function for IBM WebSphere Commerce.

Fagin is a Fellow at the IBM Almaden Research Center. He has received an IBM Corporate Award, eight IBM Outstanding Innovation Awards, an IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award, and two IBM key patent awards. Fagin has published more than 100 papers and served on more than 30 conference program committees. He received a BA in mathematics from Dartmouth College and a PhD in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Fagin was named an IEEE Fellow for "contributions to finite-model theory and to relational database theory" and an ACM Fellow for "creating the field of finite model theory and for fundamental research in relational database theory and in reasoning about knowledge."

Also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fagin was named Docteur Honoris Causa by the University of Paris and a "Highly Cited Researcher" by the Institute for Scientific Information. He won best paper awards at the 1985 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the 2001 ACM Symposium on Principles of Database Systems, and the 2010 International Conference on Database Theory. Fagin also received a 2011 IEEE Computer Society Technical Achievement Award "for pioneering contributions to the theory of rank and score aggregation" and the 2004 ACM SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, a lifetime achievement award in databases, for "fundamental contributions to database theory."

Computer Society Awards

The IEEE Computer Society maintains an extensive and prestigious awards program that recognizes outstanding work by computer professionals who advance the field through exceptional technical achievement and service to the profession and to society. Visit for full program details, including nomination forms and instructions.

Nominations Sought for Cray, Fernbach, and Kennedy Awards

The IEEE Computer Society Awards Committee is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to receive the 2012 Seymour Cray, Sidney Fernbach, and Ken Kennedy awards for technical achievement.

Seymour Cray Award

The Cray Award confers a crystal memento, illuminated certificate, and $10,000 honorarium to recognize innovative contributions to high-performance computing systems that best exemplify the creative spirit demonstrated by Seymour Cray.

Sidney Fernbach Award

The Fernbach Award was established in memory of Sidney Fernbach, one of the pioneers in the development and application of high-performance computers to the solution of large computational problems. A certificate and $2,000 recognize outstanding contributions in the application of high-performance computers using innovative approaches. Nominations are solicited from the conference committees of SC.

Ken Kennedy Award

Established in memory of Ken Kennedy, the founder of Rice University's nationally ranked computer science program and one of the world's foremost experts on high-performance computing, the Kennedy Award recognizes outstanding contributions to programmability or productivity in HPC together with significant community service or mentoring contributions. A certificate and $5,000 honorarium are awarded jointly by the IEEE Computer Society and ACM.

Nominate a Recipient

To nominate a candidate for an IEEE Computer Society award, log in at Self-nominations are not permitted, and additional endorsements may be required. Franchised (voting) members of the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors are not eligible to nominate, endorse, or receive any major named Society awards, other than service awards. The franchised members of the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors are the society president, president-elect, first and second vice presidents, immediate past president, and the 21 elected members of the board. Nominations for the Cray, Fernbach, and Kennedy Awards are due by 1 July.

Fellowship Applications Invited

Applications are now being accepted for the George Michael HPC Fellowship, which honors exceptional PhD students whose research focuses on high-performance computing. Sponsored by the EEE Computer Society, ACM, and the SC conference series, the fellowship entitles winners to a $5,000 honorarium, travel and registration for SC12 and SC13, and an invited presentation opportunity at SC13. Submissions close on 1 July.

The George Michael fellowship is open to PhD students whose research focus is on HPC applications, networking, storage, or large-scale data analysis using the most powerful computers that are currently available. Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time PhD program at an accredited college or university and have completed at least one year of study in their doctoral program. All applicants must meet minimum scholarship requirements at their institution.

Fellowship recipients will be selected based on

  • overall potential for research excellence,
  • the degree to which technical interests align with those of the HPC community,
  • academic progress to date,
  • presentations and publications,
  • recommendations by their faculty advisor and (optionally) others,
  • a plan of study to enhance HPC-related skills, and
  • demonstration of current and future use of HPC resources.

To apply, complete the George Michael application form at In 1,000 words or fewer, appli-cants will be asked to describe their current research, academic progress, and current and future use of HPS resources. For more information, send an e-mail message to

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