Edgar Codd

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Photo of Edgar F. Codd

Dr Edgar Frank (Ted) Codd (23 August 1923 - 18 April 2003) was a British computer scientist and IBM researcher who first developed the relational data model in 1970. Over time it has proved to be flexible, extensible, and robust.


Codd was born at Portland, Dorset, England. He studied mathematics and chemistry at the Oxford University and served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II. In 1948 he moved to New York, USA to work for IBM as a mathematical programmer. In 1953, angered by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Codd moved to Ottawa (Canada). A decade later he returned to the USA and received his doctorate in computer science from the University of Michigan. Two years later he moved to San Jose, California to work at IBM's Almaden Research Center.

In the 1960s and 1970s he worked on his theories of data arrangement, issuing his paper "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks" in 1970. To his disappointment, IBM proved slow to exploit his suggestions until commercial rivals started implementing them. For example, Larry Ellison built the Oracle Database based on Codd's ideas.

Codd continued to develop and extend his relational model, sometimes in collaboration with Chris Date. One of the normalized forms in Database normalization - the Boyce-Codd Normal Form, is named after Codd.

Codd also coined the term OLAP and wrote the twelve laws of online analytical processing. He also contributed knowledge in the area of cellular automata.

Codd received a Turing Award in 1981.

Edgar F. Codd died of heart failure at his home in Williams Island, Florida at the age of 79 on Friday, 18 April 2003.

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