Patrick Valduriez named ACM Fellow
© Photo LIRMM
The prestigious distinction from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) was recently awarded to a French national for the third time. This is a major honour for Patrick Valduriez, Senior Researcher at Inria and leader of the Zenith joint project-team with LIRMM* in Montpellier.
As one of the most influential computing societies in the scientific and educational world, the ACM awards every year the title of ACM Fellow to a few of its members for her outstanding contributions to computer science, the origin of fundamental knowledge and technological progress. It signifies international recognition at the highest level by one's peers.
Delighted with this distinction, Patrick Valduriez notes that "for the English-speaking world, computing is a major science, which is not yet the case in France." He feels that the award of this distinction also provides recognition of his team's work and, in particular, shows the international community what can be achieved in France.
"I hope there'll be more French nationals recognized in years to come, which will help raise awareness of our research," he said, adding that Inria's recent introduction of awards is contributing to enhancing the discipline's visibility.
Data management at the heart of the achievement
The award celebrates Patrick Valduriez's work on data management. More specifically, his contributions to the parallel management of data—using the parallel computing capabilities of large multiprocessor machines—or data distributed across a network. "This is the subject I've been working on for my entire career, and it has become fashionable in recent years thanks to big data," he observed, pointing out that the topic has been around for some time. Primarily focused on the practical applications of his work, he admits that he likes to push his ideas as far as possible and is therefore naturally inclined towards their applications, based on fundamental advances.
He is currently exploring data management in the field of life sciences and agronomy, in collaboration with INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) and CIRAD (a French research centre working with developing countries to tackle international agricultural and development issues) in Montpellier. He says that his key projects include Numev (an abbreviation of the French for "digital technology for the environment and living organisms") Laboratory of Excellence and the Institute of Computational Biology dedicated to biological big data in health, agronomy and the environment.
"Today there's a whole host of data to manage in connection with multidisciplinary projects, and the major point of interest is to be able to stress techniques to the limit by integrating complexity and heterogeneity at different scales," he explains, concluding that there is a fair balance and, above all, a virtuous circle between fundamental research and applied research.
(*) The Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics, and Microelectronics (cross-faculty research entity of the University of Montpellier 2 (UM2) and the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) - Institut des sciences informatiques et de leurs interactions (INS2I))
A Doctor of Science graduating from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6) in 1985 and an expert in distributed and parallel data management, Patrick Valduriez has published over 250 research articles in international journals and conferences, as well as several computing books. These include Principles of Distributed Database Systems (3rd Edition from Springer in 2011), which is the reference textbook on distributed data management. "Digital sciences are beginning to come into their own in France, although the doctorate I obtained in 1981 is in mathematics, as computer science was just a subcategory at the time," he notes with amusement. For five years between 1984 and 1989, he carried out the main applications of his PhD research at an industrial research centre in the US. "It was the beginning of big data and, at the time, the Teradata company was targeting the terabyte," he recalls, noting that two years ago the goal shifted to the exabyte, with Oracle's Exadata machine in the picture. "We're constantly changing scale and big data is a moving target," he observes.
Now a senior researcher at Inria, he has a number of achievements in technology transfer and has often worked at the crossroads between academic research and industrial development. One of his key roles was as head of the Dyade R&D joint venture between Bull and Inria from 1995 to 2000, which focused on technology transfer in the Internet domain. As such, he made a major contribution to transferring the Disco prototype (Distributed Information Search Component) to the start-up Kelkoo, which later became a Yahoo company. His main distinctions also include the IBM Scientific Prize in computer science in 1993 and the best paper award at the VLDB2000 conference.