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Distinguished Lecture

On-Line Science: The World-Wide Telescope as a Pro

Jim Gray
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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.
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 I have 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 http://skyserver.sdss.org). 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. Jim 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 of a book
series on data management, and is active in building online databases
like http://terraService.Net/ and http://skyserver.sdss.org.

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