Victor D. Vianu
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
Reinventing the database in response to recent developments, including the emergence of the World Wide Web. The Web itself can be seen as a huge distributed database. This fundamentally changes the very concept of a database. An expert in both classical database theory, logic, and data on the Web, Professor Vianu can put this dynamic into perspective. One contribution to classical database theory is the "relational machine," devised to better account for computational complexity in modern databases. Relational databases are accessed through abstract interfaces, making them easier to use, but masking low-level details both from users and classical mechanisms for analyzing complexity, such as Turing machines. Relational machines capture such complexity. Vianu has proven that automata theory provides a valuable tool for analyzing modern query languages on data in XML form, the emerging Web standard for data exchange. XML and the Web increasingly form Vianu's focus. He is: developing type-checking algorithms to guarantee the robustness of applications built using XML; studying database response to queries with only partial information available; and, exploring how useful data can be extracted from streams of XML wrapped data. Vianu has also worked on spatial databases, showing how queries can take advantage of annotations about the spatial data. For example, topological data about a geographic information system can significantly speed up query processing.
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