Alumni Biography: Sam Madden
March 2, 2007 - Sam Madden '99, once an undergraduate in EECS and Masters of Engineering student at MIT, is currently enjoying the view from the other side of the desk as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Recently his job was made a little easier with the award of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, established in 1955, sifts through more than 500 nomination forms each year to award 116 grants to young researches around the country that show "outstanding promise". The purpose of the grant is to enable new faculty members to set up their own labs and establish independent research projects.
Madden will be using the grant to enable him to do what he likes best about his faculty position: work with his students. The main portion of the money will be used to fund research assistanceships for the six graduate students he supervises.
"The best part of my job is being able to work with the students. It's exciting at both the graduate and undergraduate level to see a student develop an idea and then be able to see it through, and present it to others."
In addition to helping students, the award also brings with it recognition for Madden's work. Madden is humble about his achievements, but believes that the award is at least partially based on the work he has done with data management for sensor networks, which are used to monitor changes in an environment and then remotely report back those readings through the use of a radio device. In his CarTel project, he is currently working on adapting the sensors for use in mobile environments. Prototypes are currently deployed on some of Boston's taxi cabs.
Madden also believes that his work on developing data warehouses may have something to do with the award. Data warehouses are a kind of database used to store entire histories of information in order for companies to find trends and patterns in their data. His innovation in this field has been in the representation of the data stored on disk. Instead of storing the information in a row formation, as is done in most database systems, his C-Store database stores information by column, making analysis of the data much faster than commercial software currently on the market.
No matter what the reasons were for Madden's nomination he is honored by the recognition is happy to be able to use the award to continue working with students. "It's great to be recognized inside and outside the lab and to know that people think I am doing good work," Madden said of his award.