Patrick O'Neil

Professor Emeritus

Dept. of Computer Science

University of Massachusetts at Boston

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October 11, 2001



S.B. 1963 Mathematics, M.I.T.

S.M. 1964 Mathematics, University of Chicago

Ph.D. 1969 Combinatorial Mathematics, advisor G.C. Rota, Rockefeller University, N.Y., N.Y.

ONR Post-Doctoral Fellowship at MIT, 1969 to 1970




Sept. 1988-2011: Faculty of Computer Science, UMass/Boston. Full Professor 9/96. On 2/99 I was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award by the College of Arts and Science for Excellence in Research. My research has been in database system cost-performance, transactional isolation, data warehousing, variations of bitmap indexing, and multi-dimensional databases (also known as On Line Analytic Processing, or OLAP). I won an NSF Research Grant with my wife as Co-PI, and working with two Ph.D. candidates who finished their dissertations and graduated in 2002 after receiving support from this grant. See the details at: ISOLATION TESTING GRANT. I created the Set Query benchmark, published in "The Benchmark Handbook For Database and Transaction Processing Systems," Morgan Kaufmann, now available at BENCHMARK HANDBOOK. I have a database textbook written with Elizabeth O'Neil published by Morgan Kaufmann, "Database: Principles, Programming, and Performance", Second Edition, adopted by about fifty universities. Other papers and patents listed below. I am an Area Editor for Database Performance for the "Information Systems" Journal, Pergamon Press, and serve annually on database conference program committees.


Since 1988, I have performed technical consulting for Microsoft, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, Praxis (formerly CCA), DEC, Price Waterhouse, CIGNA Corporation, Amdahl, BMC Software (formerly BGS), Teleprocessing Inc., Thomson & Thomson, Policy Management Systems Corporation, Winter Corporation, Netezza Corporation, and various client companies using databases. I advised two major database system vendors on their bitmap indexing strategy, published a paper on bitmap joins that was adopted by much of the industry, and presented a coauthored paper in SIGMOD 95 that introduced a new form of transactional isolation, since adopted by Oracle and Microsoft. I consulted on benchmarking efforts for Praxis, Amdahl, CIGNA and Thomson & Thomson. In two of these benchmark consulting projects, I created custom benchmarks and analyzed aspects of cost/performance in plans for UNIX migration. I have advised various client companies on logical and physical file design, high-performance relational implementation with products such as DB2, etc. I have also performed technical evaluations for company acquisition decisions for Microsoft, and marketing consulting for Oracle.


I have served as an Expert Witness for Oracle, Policy Management Systems Corporation, Computer Corporation of America, and in two different cases for the Internal Revenue Service. I have also served as a Software Expert for a number of companies, including Microsoft, writing certification opinions on patents, software, and software methods that might lead to later expert witness work.


Following are some of my more recent consulting positions.


Winter Corporation. In the summer of 2003, I worked with Winter Corporation on an intensive two-and-a-half month effort to evaluate competing products for a very high performance database application.


Netezza Corporation. I consulted at start-up Netezza Corporation, providing insight on database issues for their implementation of a Teradata-like hardware architecture. Elizabeth O'Neil consulted with me, providing code review of the implementation so far and making suggestions for improvements at that level.


Microsoft. I contracted at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington during my Sabbatical, from June 15, 2000 to August 1, 2001, along with my wife, Elizabeth J. O'Neil, who was instrumental in implementing ideas I developed with her. Our work resulted in two new SQL Server features and an assist on a third, in the areas of XML database architecture, Unicode compression, and a new concurrency approach. The first two of these resulted in patent proposals. This followed an earlier Microsoft Sabbatical my wife and I took in 1993-1994, when I helped build up the database group at Microsoft with architects I knew in the industry (prior to that the Microsoft database group had ported Sybase SQL Server to Windows), and a Summer consulting position during the Summer of 1995, when I developed a proposed OLAP architecture and analyzed a proposed acquisition in this area.


Oracle. I consulted for three different departments at Oracle from 1995 to 1997, including consulting in the technical area of Bitmap indexing. I wrote a 1997 State of the Induestry Report for Technical Marketing, and performed Expert Witness consulting during that time.


Sybase. From May 15, 1996 until 1998 I consulted with Sybase, INC., dealing mainly with their IQ Development Group in Burlington. I advised IQ on numerous technical internals issues related to indexing, leading to a number of changes in product implementation.




Praxis (formerly CCA). From 1983 to 1988 I worked at Computer Corporation (CCA) as a programmer, ending as a Principal Software Engineer. I wrote the B+-tree for their Database product, MODEL 204, and later took responsibility for all aspects of performance, improving code, troubleshooting and lecturing to User's Groups. Starting in 1988, until about 1996, I continued to perform occasional stints of consulting, including performance studies of the new Praxis Replicator and early design work on the Omni Warehouse product.


Earlier industry experience at the following companies: IBM Cambridge Scientific Center (1964 -1973 with various educational leaves), Raytheon, D.O.T., LOGICON, KEYDATA Corp., PRIME Computer, Management Decision Systems (later IRI Software).


I was an Assistant Professor at the M.I.T. Dept. of Computer Science from 1970 to 1972.




Area Editor: Information Systems

Program Committees: VLDB97, RIDE97, ICDE97, ICDE98, VLDB99, SIGMOD99, HPTS99, SIGMOD00, SIGMOD-Industrial-00, HPTS01, ICDE02, SIGMOD04, VLDB05-Industrial

Organizing Committee (Panel Chair) ICDE04

NSF Panel to evaluate proposals, 1997, 2001.

Member: ACM, IEEE




Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Research, University of Massachusetts at Boston College of Arts and Sciences.

International Scientific Committee, 3rdInternational Multi-Conference on: "Circuits, Systems, Communications and Computers" (IMACS), Cosponsored by IEEE, July, 1999, Athens, Greece.




System and Method for efficiently indexing and storing a large database with high data insertion frequency", Patent 5204958, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1993. (The Log-Structured Merge-Tree)

"A Method for Interrogating a Teleprocessing Network's Operational Characteristics" IBM, 1975.

System and Method for relational representation of hierarchical data, Microsoft, 2005 (Ordpath for XML)

Compressed normalized character comparison with inversion, Microsoft, 2006 (Unicode encoding)