Robe Pike (born 1956).  well known for his appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman”, was until 2002 also a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he had been since 1980, the same year he won the Olympic silver medal in Archery.


                                   Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill


In 1981 he wrote the first bitmap window system for Unix systems, and has since written ten more. With Bart Locanthi he designed the Blit terminal; with Brian Kernighan he wrote The Unix Programming Environment and The Practice of Programming. A shuttle mission nearly launched a gamma-ray telescope he designed. He is a Canadian citizen and has never written a program that uses cursor addressing.


 Pike is a Distinguished Engineer at Google, Inc. He works on distributed systems, data mining, programming languages, and software development tools. Most recently he has been a co-designer and developer of the Go programming language. Before Google, Rob was a member of the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs, the lab that developed Unix. While there, he worked on computer graphics, user interfaces, languages, concurrent programming, and distributed systems. He was an architect of the Plan 9 and Inferno operating systems and is the co-author with Brian Kernighan of The Unix Programming Environment and The Practice of Programming.


Research Areas

           Data Management

The overarching goal of structured-data research at Google is to build tools that enable a rich ecosystem of structured data on the Web. To fuel such an ecosystem we need to build tools for discovery, extraction, annotation, sharing, querying, integration, visualization and publishing of structured data sets.

Google Fusion Tables lies at the center of these efforts, offering a tool for data owners to easily upload, query and share data sets. Once the data is uploaded to Fusion Tables, the user can query the data, find related data sets that other users have made public and combine multiple data sets. Users can also create compelling visualizations easily and publish them on the Web. Fusion Tables has been used by a wide variety of users  most notably by journalists and in crisis response.

In there  efforts to enable discovery of structured data sets on the Web we developed the WebTables System that extracts the HTML tables that contain valuable data. We extracted a corpus of over 150 million high-quality tables and have developed methods for searching tables in response to queries. In a previous line of work we developed techniques for tapping the content stored in databases behind forms, known as the deep web . There research has produced methods for automatically analyzing web forms and submitting meaningful queries to them, to obtain HTML pages that can be inserted into the Google index.

       Distributed Systems and Parallel Computing

No matter how powerful individual computers become, there are still reasons to harness the power of multiple computational units, often spread across large geographic areas. Sometimes this is motivated by the need to collect data from widely dispersed locations (e.g., web pages from servers, or sensors for weather or traffic). Other times it is motivated by the need to perform enormous computations that simply cannot be done by a single CPU. These are the primary motivations for the fields of distributed systems and parallel computing, respectively, though the two motivations often arise together. The study of distributed systems and parallel computing gives rise to unusual problems in concurrency control, fault tolerance, algorithmic efficiency, and communication. Some of the research involves answering fundamental theoretical questions of the field, while other researchers are engaged in the construction of systems to operate at the largest possible scale.

From its early days, Google has had to deal with such problems in the implementation and operation of a search engine. In the era of “big data”, no single machine can be expected to handle the volume of information and processing required to fulfill Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.