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Tom Lane (computer scientist)

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Tom Lane
Thomas G. Lane

(1955-09-18) September 18, 1955 (age 68)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (Ph.D., 1990)
Known forIndependent JPEG Group
Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science

Thomas G. 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 total code.[1]

Lane's contributions to open-source include:


Lane holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, awarded in 1990. He occasionally lectures there, and at 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, Lane was employed by Great Bridge, one of the first PostgreSQL support companies.[10] However, the firm was dissolved in September 2001[11] and he moved to Red Hat, a competitor of Great Bridge at the time, to develop their version of PostgreSQL named Red Hat Database.[12] The Red Hat Database project was later cancelled, but Lane continued to work there to develop PostgreSQL.[13] Between May 2013 and October 2015, he worked at Salesforce.com.[14] In 2015, Lane began working for Crunchy Data to allow more time to support the PostgreSQL community.[15][16] Lane is part of the PostgreSQL core team.[17]


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 evaluating and fixing.

Image formats[edit]

Independent JPEG Group[edit]

The Independent JPEG Group (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.

Probably the largest and most important contribution however was the work of the Independent JPEG Group (IJG), and Tom Lane in particular. Their Open Source software implementation, as well as being one of the major Open Source packages was key to the success of the JPEG standard and was incorporated by many companies into a variety of products such as image editors and Internet browsers.[18]

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 Lane, with contributions by many others.

Lane is a contributing editor for PNG Specification, version 1.1.


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."[19]
  • 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..."[20]
  • In contributing to: "The Only Coke Machine on the Internet"[21] "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".[22]

In modern culture[edit]

  • Mentioned in the Doom 3 video game readme file[23]
  • Partly responsible for JPEG being standardized as the dominant computer image format on the World Wide Web[24]


  1. ^ Ghosh, Rishab Aiyer; Prakash, Vipual Ved (2000-05-10). "The Orbiten Free Software Survey". First Monday. 5 (7). doi:10.5210/FM.V5I7.769. S2CID 39707130. (The Orbiten Free Software Survey)
  2. ^ Hankerson, Darrel R.; Harris, Greg A.; Johnson, Peter Dexter (2003-02-26). Introduction to Information Theory and Data Compression. CRC Press. ISBN 9781584883135.
  3. ^ "PostgreSQL.org website".
  4. ^ Boutell, Thomas; Lane, Tom (2011-09-29). "Portable Network Graphics (PNG) Specification and Extensions". Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  5. ^ "FileFormat.info website".
  6. ^ "Ptolemy Project".
  7. ^ "Tom Lane's Bio on PGCon 2011 The PostgreSQL Conference Speaker Page". 18 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Multiprogramming in Model 520 BASIC" (PDF). Hewlett-Packard Journal. 35 (5): 2021. May 1984.
  9. ^ "Ptolemy Project website".
  10. ^ Lane, Tom (31 July 2000). "Announcement: I'm joining Great Bridge".
  11. ^ Bezroukov, Nikolai (1 July 2004). "The Sunset of Linux Hype". Portraits of Open Source Pioneers. 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. ^ Lane, Tom (27 November 2001). "Announcement: I've joined Red Hat".
  13. ^ Berkus, Josh (10 June 2013). "A report from pgCon 2013". LWN.net.
  14. ^ Finley, Klint. "Salesforce Nabs Open Source Database Guru For War On Oracle". Wired. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Crunchy Data Welcomes Open Source Pioneer Tom Lane" (Press release). Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Tom Lane: changing employers".
  17. ^ "PostgreSQL: Contributor Profiles". Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  18. ^ "JPEG.org Homepage". 2008-09-14. (www.jpeg.org)
  19. ^ Law, Gillian (2002-07-02). "Forgent claims JPEG patent; others cry foul". NetworkWorld. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  20. ^ Lane, Tom (2004-11-19). "pgsql-hackers forum". Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  21. ^ "The Only Coke Machine on the Internet".
  22. ^ Lane, Tom (16 Feb 2007). "Re: Database performance comparison paper".
  23. ^ Stephane, Peter. "Doom 3 Readme File". Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  24. ^ "JPEG.org". 2008-09-14.

External links[edit]