Michael Burrows

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Michael Burrows
Born1963 (age 59–60)[citation needed]
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materUniversity College London (BSc)
University of Cambridge (PhD)
Known forBurrows–Wheeler transform[5][6]
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society (2013)[1]
SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award (2003)[2]
IET Achievement Medal (2019)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Science
University of Cambridge
Digital Equipment Corporation
ThesisEfficient Data Sharing (1988)
Doctoral advisorDavid Wheeler[3][4]

Michael Burrows, FRS (born 1963) is a British computer scientist and the creator of the Burrows–Wheeler transform, currently working for Google. Born in Britain, as of 2018 he lives in the United States, although he remains a British citizen.[7][8][9]


Burrows studied Electronic Engineering with Computer Science at University College London and then completed his PhD in the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, where he was a postgraduate student of Churchill College, Cambridge supervised by David Wheeler.[3][10][11]


Upon leaving Cambridge, he moved to USA and worked at the Systems Research Center (SRC) at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) where, with Louis Monier, he was one of the two main creators of AltaVista.[12]

Following Compaq's acquisition of DEC, Burrows worked briefly for Microsoft preventing spamming.[11][13] Shortly thereafter he went to Google.[14]

After his early work at the University of Cambridge, where he researched microkernels[citation needed] and basic matters of security, he went on to enlarge upon that work as systems were deployed at large scale on the Internet.

During his employment at Google, Burrows has studied concurrency & synchronisation and programming in the large – especially with respect to the C++ language.[citation needed] He designed the Chubby lock service for coordination between server nodes in large distributed systems.[15]

Awards and honours[edit]

Burrows was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013.[11] His nomination reads:

Dr Michael Burrows is distinguished for his pioneering work on web search and indexing. He was one of the designers of the early search engine Altavista. He was also one of the pioneers of the application of formal logic to the verification of security protocols. He has made seminal contributions to many other areas of computer science and engineering ranging from compression through synchronisation to performance measurement. He is one of the engineers who led the design of Google's distributed computing infrastructure.[1]

Burrows received the SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award in 2003.[2]

He received the IET Achievement Medal (Computer Engineering) in 2019.[16]


  1. ^ a b Anon (2013). "Dr Michael Burrows FRS". London: royalsociety.org. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

  2. ^ a b "The Mark Weiser Award". ACM SIGOPS. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Burrows, Michael (1988). Efficient Data Sharing (PDF) (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ Michael Burrows at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Burrows, Michael; Wheeler, David J. (1994), A block sorting lossless data compression algorithm, Technical Report 124, Digital Equipment Corporation
  6. ^ Salson, M.; Lecroq, T.; Léonard, M.; Mouchard, L. (2009). "A four-stage algorithm for updating a Burrows–Wheeler transform". Theoretical Computer Science. 410 (43): 4350. doi:10.1016/j.tcs.2009.07.016.
  7. ^ Michael Burrows at DBLP Bibliography Server Edit this at Wikidata
  8. ^ Savage, S.; Burrows, M.; Nelson, G.; Sobalvarro, P.; Anderson, T. (1997). "Eraser: A dynamic data race detector for multithreaded programs". ACM Transactions on Computer Systems. 15 (4): 391. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/265924.265927. S2CID 1492924.
  9. ^ Abadi, M. N.; Burrows, M.; Lampson, B.; Plotkin, G. (1993). "A calculus for access control in distributed systems" (PDF). ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems. 15 (4): 706. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/155183.155225. hdl:1842/207. S2CID 13260508.
  10. ^ Burrows, M.; Abadi, M.; Needham, R. M. (1989). "A Logic of Authentication". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 426 (1871): 233. Bibcode:1989RSPSA.426..233B. doi:10.1098/rspa.1989.0125. S2CID 61768542.
  11. ^ a b c "BURROWS, Dr. Michael". Who's Who. Vol. 2017 (online Oxford University Press ed.). Oxford: A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ "1996 Dvorak Awards Winners". citivu.com. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007.
  13. ^ "Michael Burrows". angreiter.com.
  14. ^ Lu, Crystal (12 January 2007). "The Genius: Mike Burrows' self-effacing journey through Silicon Valley". The Cardinal Inquirer. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  15. ^ Burrows, Mike (2006). "The Chubby lock service for loosely-coupled distributed systems". 7th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI).
  16. ^ "Winner of IET Achievement Medals 2019".