Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, Month 28, 2008
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

The Search for Jim Gray

Panel Discussion
About the talk:

When Jim Gray, a noted computer scientist and Turing award winner, disappeared at sea, a massive effort was mounted to find him, an effort that including both traditional and non-traditional approaches. In this Colloquium meeting, a panel of speakers will touch on both the technical approaches employed in the search and on the social side where the community organized a massive effort quickly and efficiently. We expect audience participation, questions, comments, and story telling.

Panel Members:

CAPT David J. Swatland When the Coast Guard got a call on Sunday evening Jan 28, 2007 that a sailing vessel was overdue returning from a day trip to the Farallon Islands, little did we know it would turn into one of the largest search and rescue efforts on the west coast in recent history. The Coast Guard search for Dr. Jim Gray and his 40 ft sailboat "Tenacious" covered over 130,000 square miles from the Oregon border to the Mexican border with aircraft, boats and land units over a five day period. What made this search unique was the unprecedented level of support from Dr. Gray's family and friends in providing resources and technology that the Coast Guard didn't have. This support came mainly in the form of satellite imagery and computer modeling, but also included aircraft and vessel search assets. After the Coast Guard suspended its active search, the family and friends continued their efforts for months, searching both on and under the water. To date, no sign of Dr. Gray or his boat have been located. And that makes this case even more unique, as there is usually some type of debris/evidence/etc. located after the disappearance of a vessel. While advanced technology has greatly improved search capabilities in recent years (satellite imagery, computer drift models, etc.), as the Dr. Gray and Steve Fossett cases demonstrated, the safest tact is still prevention (good skills/equipment/situational awareness/preparation). And if you find yourself in distress, having the equipment/skills to help rescuers find you (i.e. take the "search" out of "search & rescue") can make the difference between life and death.
Donna Carnes Donna, Jim's wife, will present a brief retrospective of the search from the perspective of a family member.
Mike Olson The search for Jim Gray spanned a huge range of organizations and people, including search professionals at the US Coast Guard and scientists and technologists from academia and industry. We relied on established social networks of highly skilled specialists with unusual access to data and tools. Our work was echoed, to some degree, in other recent high-profile searches, including those for James Kim and his family, and for Steve Fossett. These search efforts raise an important question: What, if anything, can technologists do to aid in search and rescue efforts for ordinary individuals? slides

A Tribute for Jim Grey is scheduled to be held at UC Berkeley on Saturday, May 30th. Registration is required for the technical symposium. See Jim Gray Tribute for detailed information.

About the Panelists:

Donna Carnes is Jim Gray's wife.

CAPT David J. Swatlanad is the Deputy Sector Commander for the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. photo

Mike Olson is a long time friend of Jim Gray's. He was a founder of Sleepcat Software in Berkeley which was acquired by Oracle. Mike was an Oracle VP until early this year when he let Oracle to explore other opportunities.