Alberto Lerner


Bio and Interests

I am a Senior Researcher at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland at the eXascale Infolab. Previously, I spent some time in research groups at IBM Research (both at T.J. Watson and Almaden), and in the industry, at Google and MongoDB – and some start-ups. I got my Ph.D. in 2003 at Ecole Normale Superieure de Telecomunications at Paris (now Paris Tech) having done the research work connected to my Thesis both at INRIA/Rocquencourt and at New York University.

My research interests revolve around non-conventional database systems. I mean non-conventional in at least three different angles.

Exploring close coupling with hardware. The challenge here is to harmonize the operations a database wants to do with those that the underlying hardware is good at--for performance and power efficiency. For that we look even beyond the CPU itself. We found that there are opportunities to better integrate database systems with both storage and networking stacks. On an ongoing work, we are integrating the compute capacity of high-speed switches -- the programmable ones -- into massively parallel databases, and are thus capable of processing portions of a query at the switches, while they are moving the tuples around.
Data models beyond relational. For instance, data that comes in arrays and sequences in a given order. My Thesis described a way to manipulate such ordered data in a declarative way, similar to SQL. Queries over data coming from fields such as Finance and Biology turned out much easier to express. And, as a result, we uncovered some new opportunities for query optimization.
Support for much larger data than usual. At the high-end of the size scale, the established techniques are pushed to their breaking point. I have first-hand experience with problems arising in datacenter-sized systems where thousands of machines work cooperative to manage databases with trillions of objects. One of my goals is to keep pushing this size boundary.

Recent Publications

  1. Alberto Lerner, Rana Hussein, André Ryser, Sangjin Lee, and Philippe Cudré-Mauroux. “Networking and Storage: The Next Computing Elements in Exascale Systems?.” IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 43, no. 1 (March 2020): 60–71. Bibtex PDF
  2. Mourad Khayati, Alberto Lerner, Zakhar Tymchenko, and Philippe Cudré-Mauroux. “Mind the Gap: An Experimental Evaluation of Imputation of Missing Values Techniques in Time Series.” In Proceedings of the VLDB Endowment, Vol. 13, 2020. Bibtex PDF Code
  3. Alberto Lerner, Jaewook Kwak, Sangjin Lee, Kibin Park, Yong Ho Song, and Philippe Cudré-Mauroux. “It Takes Two: Instrumenting the Interaction between In-Memory Databases and Solid-State Drives.” In CIDR 2020, 10th Conference on Innovative Data Systems Research, 2020. Bibtex PDF
  4. Alberto Lerner, Rana Hussein, and Philippe Cudré-Mauroux. “The Case For Network Accelerated Query Processing.” In CIDR 2019, 9th Biennial Conference on Innovative Data Systems Research, 2019. Bibtex PDF