Michael Burrows

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This article is about the computer scientist. For the Church of Ireland (Anglican) bishop, see Michael Burrows (bishop).
Michael Burrows
Born 1963 (age 52–53)[citation needed]
Residence United States of America
Citizenship United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Computer Science
Institutions Google
University of Cambridge
Digital Equipment Corporation
Alma mater University College London (undergraduate)
Churchill College, Cambridge (postgraduate)
Thesis Efficient Data Sharing (1988)
Doctoral advisor David Wheeler[1][2]
Known for Burrows–Wheeler transform[3][4]
Influences Roger Needham[1]
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society (2013)

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, he now lives in the United States, although remaining a British citizen. [5][6][7]


Burrows did his undergraduate degree in 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 member of Churchill College, Cambridge.[1] [8]


Upon leaving Cambridge, he 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.[9]

Following Compaq's acquisition of DEC, Burrows worked briefly for Microsoft.[10] Shortly thereafter he went to Google.[11]

After his early work at the University of Cambridge, where he researched micro-kernels 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 and synchronisation, and for programming in the large[clarification needed] – especially with respect to the C++ language.[citation needed]


Burrows was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 2013. His nomination read:

"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 synchronization to performance measurement. He is one of the engineers who led the design of Google's distributed computing infrastructure.



  1. ^ a b c Burrows, Michael (1988). Efficient Data Sharing (PDF) (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Michael Burrows at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Burrows, Michael; Wheeler, David J. (1994), A block sorting lossless data compression algorithm, Technical Report 124, Digital Equipment Corporation 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Michael Burrows at DBLP Bibliography Server
  6. ^ 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. doi:10.1145/265924.265927. 
  7. ^ 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. doi:10.1145/155183.155225. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 1996 Dvorak Awards Winners
  10. ^ langreiter.com plain, simple: Michael Burrows
  11. ^ Lu, Crystal (January 12, 2007). "The Genius: Mike Burrows' self-effacing journey through Silicon Valley". The Cardinal Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-02-17. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  12. ^ Dr Michael Burrows FRS