Tom Lane (computer scientist)

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Tom Lane
Born (1955-09-18) September 18, 1955 (age 64)
NationalityFlag of the United States.svg US
Alma materCarnegie Mellon University
Known forIndependent JPEG Group,
PostgreSQL, Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Science

Thomas G. (Tom) Lane is a computer scientist dedicated to open source software. In a 2000 survey he was listed as one of the top 10 contributors to an intended-to-be-representative sample of Open Source software, having contributed 0.782% of the code in the total sampled.[1]

Tom Lane's contributions to Open source include:


Tom Lane holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, 1990. He occasionally lectures at Carnegie Mellon University and other places.[7] He has worked for Hewlett Packard,[8] Structured Software Systems,[9] Great Bridge, Red Hat, Salesforce, and Crunchy Data.

In July 2000, Tom Lane was employed by Great Bridge, one of the first PostgreSQL support companies.[10] However, the company was dissolved in September 2001[11] and Tom moved to Red Hat, a competitor of Great Bridge at the time, to develop their version of PostgreSQL called "Red Hat Database".[12] The Red Hat Database project was later cancelled, but Tom continued to work there to develop PostgreSQL.[13] Between May 2013 and October 2015, Tom worked at[14] In 2015 Tom started working for Crunchy Data to allow more time to support the PostgreSQL community.[15] Tom is part of the PostgreSQL core team.[16]


Tom Lane is a member of the core PostgreSQL development team. He is involved in all aspects of PostgreSQL, including new features, performance improvements, and bug evaluation and fixes.

Image formats[edit]

Independent JPEG Group (IJG)[edit]

IJG is an informal group that writes and distributes a widely used free library for JPEG image compression. The IJG is arguably one of the important early open source groups and a major reason why the JPEG image format is a standard.

The IJG develops and maintains libjpeg, a library written entirely in C which contains a widely used implementation of a JPEG decoder, JPEG encoder and other JPEG utilities.


The original specification for the Portable Network Graphics (PNG), version 1.0, was written by Thomas Boutell and Tom Lane, with contributions by many others.

Tom Lane is a Contributing Editor for PNG Specification, Version 1.1.


Tom Lane is a member of the Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) advisory committee.



  • In disputing a JPEG patent claim. "The patent describes a three-way symbol classification; the closest analog in JPEG is a two-way classification. If the jury can count higher than two, the case will fail."[18]
  • In describing the attention to detail of another software company "The Single Unix Spec says that getopt() is supposed to be defined by <unistd.h>, but I guess reading the spec closely is not a hobby in Redmond..."[19]
  • In contributing to "The Only Coke Machine on the Internet"[20] "Since time immemorial (well, maybe 1970) the Carnegie-Mellon CS department has maintained a departmental Coke machine which sells bottles of Coke for a dime or so less than other vending machines around campus. As no Real Programmer can function without caffeine, the machine is very popular..."
  • On idiotic benchmark comparisons "Try to carry 500 people from Los Angeles to Tokyo in an F-15. No? Try to win a dogfight in a 747. No? But they both fly, so it must be useful to compare them... especially on the basis of the most simplistic test case you can think of. For extra points, use *only one* test case. Perhaps this paper can be described as "comparing an F-15 to a 747 on the basis of required runway length".[21]

In modern culture[edit]

  • Mentioned in the Doom 3 video game's readme file[22]
  • Partially responsible for the standardization of JPEG as the dominant computer image format on the World Wide Web[23]


  1. ^ Rishab Aiyer Ghosh & Vipual Ved Prakash (2000-05-10). "The Orbiten Free Software Survey". (The Orbiten Free Software Survey)
  2. ^ Darrel R. Hankerson; Greg A. Harris; Peter Dexter Johnson. Introduction to Information Theory and Data Compression.
  3. ^ " website".
  4. ^ Thomas Boutell & Tom Lane. "Portable Network Graphics (PNG) Specification and Extensions".
  5. ^ " website".
  6. ^ "Ptolemy Project website".
  7. ^ "Tom Lane's Bio on PGCon 2011 The PostgreSQL Conference Speaker Page".
  8. ^ "Hewlett Packard Journal 1984" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Ptolemy Project website".
  10. ^ Tom Lane (31 July 2000). "Announcement: I'm joining Great Bridge".
  11. ^ Nikolai Bezroukov (1 July 2004). "The Sunset of Linux Hype". NORFOLK, Va., September 6, 2001 -- Great Bridge LLC, the company that pioneered commercial distribution and support of the PostgreSQL open source database, announced today that it has ceased business operations
  12. ^ Tom Lane (27 November 2001). "Announcement: I've joined Red Hat".
  13. ^ Josh Berkus (10 June 2013). "A report from pgCon 2013".
  14. ^ "Salesforce Nabs Open Source Database Guru For War On Oracle". Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Crunchy Data Welcomes Open Source Pioneer Tom Lane". Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  16. ^ "PostgreSQL: Contributor Profiles". Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  17. ^ " Homepage". 2008-09-14. (
  18. ^ Gillian Law (2002-07-02). "Forgent claims JPEG patent; others cry foul". Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2007-09-11.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (NetworkWorld article)
  19. ^ Tom Lane (2004-11-19). "pgsql-hackers forum". Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  20. ^ "The Only Coke Machine on the Internet".
  21. ^ "Re: Database performance comparison paper".
  22. ^ "Doom 3 Readme File".
  23. ^ " Homepage". 2008-09-14.

External links[edit]