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Tribute planned for Microsoft's Jim Gray

The researcher, who disappeared at sea a year ago, will be honored by colleagues at a daylong event in May.

Missing Microsoft researcher Jim Gray will be honored at a daylong event at the University of California at Berkeley on May 31.

Gray, who disappeared Jan. 28, 2007 while sailing on his boat, has been the subject of an extensive search, but one that has thus far turned up few promising leads.

Jim Gray
Jim Gray

"It is important to note that this is a tribute, not a memorial," Oracle Vice President Mike Olson said in a statement. "Many people in our industry, including me, are deeply indebted to Jim for his intellect, his vision, and his unselfish willingness to be a teacher and a mentor."

Olson is among those who will speak at the tribute, which is being hosted by ACM, IEEE Computer Society, and UC Berkeley. Other speakers include: UC Berkeley professors Joe Hellerstein and Mike Harrison, Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch, research head Rick Rashid, and architect Pat Helland. Therapist Pauline Boss will also speak on understanding ambiguous loss.

Gray was a pre-eminent researcher, doing groundbreaking work in databases and other areas, paving the way for ATMs, online ticketing, and other large databases. In 1998, he received one of computer science's highest honor, the Turing Award. More recently, he worked on satellite imagery, building the Terra Server Web site and Sky Server, an astronomical Web site.

"Jim was a true visionary and leader in this field," Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, said in a statement. "We are honored to host this tribute to Jim's remarkable achievements and the impact he made on so many of us."

Gray attended Berkeley from 1961 to 1969 and was the school's first Ph.D. recipient in computer science. He went on to work at Bell Labs, IBM, Tandem Computers, and Digital Equipment, before joining Microsoft in 1995.