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Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

On-line Science: The World-wide Telescope as a Prototype for the New Computational Science


Jim Gray
Microsoft Corporation

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
4:30 p.m. Reception
5:00 p.m. Seminar

402 Walter Library

Jim Gray

Slide presentation (powerpoint 3.0 MB) Slide presentation (pdf 3.13 MB) Computational science has historically meant simulation, but there is an increasing role for analysis and mining of online scientific data. As a case in point, half of the world's astronomy data is public. The astronomy community is putting all that data on the Internet so that the Internet becomes the world's best telescope. It has the whole sky in many bands and in detail as good as the best 2-year-old telescopes and it is useable by all astronomers everywhere. This is the vision of the virtual observatory, also called the World Wide Telescope (WWT). As one step along that path, Jim Gray has been working with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (especially Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins) and CalTech to federate their data in web services on the Internet, and to make it easy to ask questions of the database (see This talk explains the rationale for the WWT, discusses how we designed the database, and talks about some data mining tasks. It also describes computer science challenges of publishing, federating, and mining scientific data, and argues that XML web services are key to federating diverse data sources.


Jim Gray is part of Microsoft's research group. His work focuses on databases and transaction processing. Mr. Gray is active in the research community, is an ACM, NAE, NAS, and AAAS Fellow, and received the ACM Turing Award for his work on transaction processing. He edits a book series on data management, and is active in building online databases like http://terraService.Net/ and