Holger Pirk


Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer in Computing
Imperial College London
180 Queen’s Gate
London SW7 2RH, United Kingdom


Email: hlgr@imperial.ac.uk
www: http://holger.pirk.name


Before joining Imperial, I was a Postdoc at the Database group at MIT CSAIL. I spent my PhD years in the Database Architectures group at CWI in Amsterdam resulting in a PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2015. I received my master’s degree (Diplom) in computer science at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 2010.

Research Interests

I am interested in all things data: analytics, transactions, systems, algorithms, data structures, processing models and everything in between. While some of my work targets “traditional” relational databases, my objective is to broaden the applicability of data management techniques. This naturally leads to research at the intersection of data management, compilers and computer architecture: I study the effective use of current and emerging hardware to improve the performance of data-intensive applications and abstractions to make them easier to program. This means targeting new applications like visualization, games, IoT and AI as well as new platforms like compilers, GPUs or FPGAs as well all hardware-conscious algorithms, new data processing paradigms, algebraic optimizations, cost models and code generation techniques.


Ph.D. at the Database Architectures group at CWI/University of Amsterdam (2011 - 2014)

Thesis: Waste Not, Want Not! Managing Relational Data In Asymmetric Memories
· Advisors: Martin Kersten & Stefan Manegold

MSc. (Diplom) of computer science and psychology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2003 - 2010)

Thesis: Cache Conscious Data Layouting For In-Memory Databases
· Advisor: Ulf Leser

Professional Experience

06/2021 - today

Senior Lecturer at Imperial College, London, UK
· Faculty member in the Large-Scale Data & Systems Group

09/2017 - 05/2021

Lecturer at Imperial College, London, UK
· Faculty member of the Large-Scale Data & Systems Group

02/2018 - 09/2019

Consulting Researcher at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK

05/2016 - 08/2017

Visiting Researcher at the DMX group at Microsoft Research, Redmond, USA
· Studying the use of compression in in-memory Database Management Systems

12/2014 - 04/2017

Postdoctoral researcher at the Database group at MIT, Cambridge, USA
· Developed Voodoo, a processing algebra that enables the implementation of portable programs for data-intensive applications
· Contributed to Weld/Solder, A Common Runtime for High Performance Data Analytics
· Developed Loa, a domain-specific language for the optimization of dataflow programs

10/2010 - 09/2014

Ph.D. candidate at the Database Architectures group at CWI, Amsterdam
· Developed the Bitwise Decomposed Storage and Processing Model, a processing strategy for efficient CPU/GPU co-processing
· Developed and Evaluated a cost-based storage optimizer for a high-performance in-memory database system (HyPeR)
· Contributed to the Data Vaults Framework, an on-demand data ingestion framework
· Contributed to SciQL, a query language for scientific applications that unifies relational and array data management (managed ERC FP7 reporting requirements)
· Developed the (at the time) fastest implementation of Database Cracking, an adaptive indexing strategy

10/2009 - 09/2010

Software architect at Kontacts IT-Solutions GmbH, Potsdam, Germany
· Developed a data ingestion system for the quality control at the Mercedes Benz Commercial Vehicles Subdivision of the Daimler AG
· Developed the mobile application for a German social network service

10/2009 - 02/2010

Teaching assistant at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute, Potsdam, Germany
· Mentored undergraduate students in the Advanced Software Engineering class

01/2009 - 09/2009

Research student at the EPIC group at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute, Potsdam, Germany
· Developed and implemented a cost-based storage optimization framework for an in-memory database system (HyRise)

03/2008 - 08/2008

Research assistant at the EPIC group at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute, Potsdam, Germany
· Contributed to the implementation of CestBON, a context aware, push-based data retrieval system

12/2007 - 10/2008

Research assistant at the Knowledge Management in Bio-Informatics group at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
· Developed an application for the management and visualization of protein interaction networks

12/2006 - 05/2007

Research assistant (remote) for the IBM Data Warehousing group (Berlin, Germany)
· Continued my contributions to the Cube Faceted Warehousing project

04/2006 - 10/2006

Research Intern at IBM Silicon Valley Labs, San Jose, CA
· Contributed a Cube Faceted Warehousing, a project to integrate faceted search capabilities into data warehousing (resulting in two patents)

10/2004 - 03/2006

Research assistant at the Fraunhofer FIRST, Berlin
· Developed an interactive tool to formalize textual use case descriptions





Awards & Funding

Invited Talks


Academic Service


PhD Students


Master’s Students

Master’s-Level Group Projects

Bachelor’s Students

Ph.D. Assessment

University Service