Ben Sowell

sowell at cs dot cornell dot edu
5132 Upson Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Photo of me from Prague

Note: I graduated with my PhD in May/Aug. 2012. My first employer is Nou Data. This page is now read only, but you can find out what I'm up to on my personal page.

I am currently a PhD student in the Computer Science department at Cornell University. I work in the database group with Professor Johannes Gehrke

I am broadly interested in data management, particularly in novel applications of query processing techniques. I am currently working on the data-driven games project, which uses data management techniques to improve computer game performance.

I recently graduated from Carleton College, a small liberal-arts school in Northfield, Minnesota. Before that, I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.


In the data-driven games project, we are working to develop a scalable architecture for video games and large-scale simulations. We have developed a declarative language called SGL that allows game developers to script character behavior. SGL has been carefully designed so that it can be optimized using standard database techniques. My work has focused on developing efficient query-processing algorithms for SGL applications. More information can be found at the project page.

Prior to coming to Cornell, I worked with Professor David Liben-Nowell at Carleton College on a project involving distributed search in social networks. We examined a model using rank-based friendship, where a link is placed between two individuals with probability inversely proportional to the number of other people between them. In this setting we were able to provide a tight analysis of the performance of a greedy decentralized algorithm and improve upon the best known bound with some slight constraints on the metric space. This work was presented at the ISAAC conference in December.