William Cohen , associate research professor in the Machine Learning Department, received the 2008 SIGMOD Test of Time Award during the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Management of Data conference in Vancouver, B.C., June 9-12.
The award recognizes the enduring insights of a paper Cohen published 10 years ago on the challenges of combining information from multiple databases. Differences in how each data base identifies people, organizations or other structured information ensures that any combination will result in uncertainties that must be acknowledged and managed, he argued. He also introduced a logic called WHIRL that analyzes natural language text to determine the similarity of names used in different data bases. Cohen wrote the paper, "Integration of Heterogeneous Databases Without Common Domains Using Queries Based on Textual Similarity," while on the staff of AT&T Labs in Florham Park, N.J.