Who all people have made life changing contributions to database research? I want to know more about them.

  • 1
    Can you more specific? Relational Theory? Any RDBMS in particular? – gbn Aug 8 '11 at 14:44
  • Good question. Made me think away from the technical stuff for a bit and look at some of the theory. – StanleyJohns Aug 10 '11 at 5:11

This could be viewed as a very speculative question. However, for the database community it should be a no brainer and a slam dunk.

Edgar Frank Codd : Inventor of the Relational Model we all model databases with.

Christopher J Date : Extensive writer of Database Theory. He keeps evolving database theory and expresses such in his current website.

Donald Chamberlin and Raymond Boyce : Authors of SQL

Some people say that Pioneers explore the land and take all the arrows, while settlers get to dwell in the land left by the trailblazing of Pioneers.

Other names can be added to this list, but database theory and research had its roots from the works of these Pioneers. All users of Databases after their inital works are like Settlers in the land.

Anyone can read books or Google names of such people, but nothing beats using the principles of relational theory to appreciate the depth of their research.

  • I wonder why the Codd's entry on wikipedia does not contain "The Key, The Whole Key, and Nothing but the Key, so help me Codd". – j.p. Oct 20 '11 at 15:56

I would consider spending some time understanding the differences in approach between Ralph Kimball and Bill Inmon with regards to data warehousing concepts.

  • A Dimensional Modeling Manifesto - Differences between ER modeling and DM modeling for your data warehouse. Ralph Kimball, 1997, DBMS Mag
  • Differences of Opinion - Kimball's bus architecture and Inmon's Corporate Information Factory compared. Margy Ross, 2004, Intelligent Enterprise
  • Slowly Changing Dimensions - How to manage the time variance of your dimensions in your data warehouse. Ralph Kimbal, 2008, Information Management (DMReview)

The above links were collected from the Kimball Group's website. (link) There are many more that can be found there addressing a variety of topics supporting Kimball's school of thought on data warehousing.

  • I could appreciate bringing this question into the 21st century with more recent database concepts and paradigms. Would you please post some links in your answer around Kimball and Inmon's initial research ? +1 !!! – RolandoMySQLDBA Oct 19 '11 at 20:20
  • I will come back and back fill some more of the Inmon related materials. – RobPaller Oct 20 '11 at 14:33
  • +1 - totally agree with the Kimball reference, have read a number of his. – Dave Rix Oct 25 '11 at 21:15

Chris Date, Edgar Codd and Ralph Kimball come to mind, but you'll need to be more specific. (You can also find most of these cats on wikipedia, google, bing, what have you. I'd supply links but I suspect the point of your question is because you need to do research, and don't want things handed to you.)


Michael Stonebraker and the team that did INGRES and POSTGRES were also pretty major contributors to the state of the art.

  • Also Vertica is totally awesome, although it is not exactly RDBMS I guess – A-K Feb 4 '13 at 22:51

E.F. Codd, C. J. Date and Hugh Darwen.

To quote Date in his recent book, SQL and Relational Theory: How to Write Accurate SQL Code:

Hugh Darwen and I have tried to provide, in our book Databases, Types, and the Relational Model: The Third Manifesto, our own careful statement of what we believe the relational model is (or ought to be!). Indeed, we'd like our Manifesto to be seen in part as a definitive statement in this regard. I refer you to the book itself for the details; here just let me say that we see our contribution in this area as primarily one of dotting a few i's and crossing a few t's that Codd himself left undotted or uncrossed in his own original work. We most certainly don't want to be thought of as departing in any major respect from Codd's original vision; indeed, the whole of the Manifesto is very much in the spirit of Codd's ideas and continues along the path that he originally laid down.

  • can you provide some more information on these please, like links to relevant Wikipedia pages, etc. You'll have more chance of getting the answer accepted :) – Dave Rix Oct 25 '11 at 21:14
  • @DaveRix: done. – onedaywhen Oct 26 '11 at 13:53
  • Nice, I'll add them to my growing ToDo list of reading materials! – Dave Rix Oct 27 '11 at 7:39

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Dr. David DeWitt. If you have a chance to catch any of his lectures/presentations you won't be disappointed.

  • Just read the wiki. Sounds like a Pioneer as well. +1 !!! – RolandoMySQLDBA Feb 4 '13 at 22:57

Fay Chang, Jeffrey Dean, Sanjay Ghemawat, Wilson C. Hsieh, Deborah A. Wallach Mike Burrows, Tushar Chandra, Andrew Fikes, Robert E. Gruber

For Google BigTable, which started the whole Big Data movement.


  • 1
    Nothing like a fresh list of Pioneers, eh? +1 !!! – RolandoMySQLDBA Feb 4 '13 at 22:56

A fairly definitive list of database researchers can be found at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Database_researchers

And it may also be instructive to check out the SIGMOD (Special Interest Group on Management of Data) awards at this link: http://www.sigmod.org/sigmod-awards. It's pretty much a database 'Rock & Roll Hall of Fame' :-)

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