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The i-Technology Right Stuff

Searching for the Twenty Top Software People in the World

 

Rob Pike

 

Brief Description: An early developer of Unix and windowing system (GUI) technology

Further Details:

From 1980 until 2002 when he joined Google, Rob Pike was a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

In 1980 too he won an Olympic silver medal in Archery.

In 1981 he wrote the first bitmap window system for Unix systems, and has since written ten more. With Bart Locanthi he designed the Blit terminal; with Brian Kernighan he wrote The Unix Programming Environment and The Practice of Programming. A shuttle mission nearly launched a gamma-ray telescope he designed. He is a Canadian citizen and has never written a program that uses cursor addressing.

He is now a member of the Systems Lab at Google, Inc. "The Web is too large to fit on a single machine," he says, "so it's no surprise that searching the Web requires the coordination of many machines, too. A single Google query may touch over a thousand machines before the results are returned to the user, all in a fraction of a second."

"With all those machines, the opportunities for parallelism and distributed computation are offset by the likelihood of hardware failure. If one machine breaks on average every few years, a pool of a thousand machines will have machines break on a daily basis. A key part of the Google story is that by designing a system to cope with breakage, we can provide not only robustness, but also parallelizability, efficiency, and economies of scale."

Other SYS-CON stories about Rob Pike

"OO Isn't Everything," Says Unix Veteran Rob Pike

 

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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