1995 Annual Report

ACM's Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM) enjoyed an active and successful year, which included the celebration of two 25th anniversaries - of the founding of the SIG in 1969, and of the publication of the first issue of SIGCOMM's quarterly newsletter, the Computer Communication Review, in 1970. For the past quarter-century, SIGCOMM has been an important focal point and catalyst for research in data communication and networking. The Computer Communication Review has consistently earned its place among the most respected and influential technical journals in the field. The annual SIGCOMM Conference continues to attract the best papers reporting the results of research and practice, and has been joined during the past five years by the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference (for which SIGCOMM provides a 50% sponsorship), the ACM Multimedia Conference (in which SIGCOMM has collaborated with five other SIGs), and the new Mobile Computing and Networking Conference (which debuts in November 1995). We ended the fiscal year with a substantial budget surplus and one of the best membership retention rates among ACM SIGs.


Officer elections were conducted during the Spring of 1995. The following candidates were elected to serve as SIGCOMM's officers from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 1997: Chairman: Jon Crowcroft Vice-chairman: Sally Floyd Secretary/Treasurer: Pat Dowd The new executive committee confirmed the continuing appointments of Greg Wetzel (Information Services Director), David Wood (Award Committee Chairman), Martha Steenstrup (CCR Editor), Lixia Zhang (CCR Associate Editor), and Lyman Chapin (IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking Steering Committee representative).

25th Anniversary

A special "retrospective" issue of the Computer Communication Review, published in January 1995, marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of SIGCOMM in 1969 and of CCR in 1970. The retrospective issue reprinted the first SIGCOMM Newsletter (December 1970) in its entirety and a selection of memorable papers that appeared in regular and conference proceeding issues of CCR from 1971 through 1994.

The Special Interest Committee on Data Communication (SICCOMM) was established on November 17, 1967, by Walter Kosinski, Larry Hittell, and Joy Nance, who recognized a problem of communication that is still familiar more than 25 years later. The computer science people were off in one corner working on computers and operating systems; the telecommunications people were off in another corner working on transmission systems and signalling; and neither group was spending much time talking with the other. The founders hoped that SICCOMM would bring people from these two disciplines together to discuss the mutually significant issues of computer communication. Announcing its formation in Communications of the ACM, Kosinski said of the new SIC that "its interests range from information theory all the way to the manufacturing of data sets (modems)."

SICCOMM was converted to the Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM) by ACM Council on May 16, 1969. The first officers were Kosinski (chairman), David Farber (vice-chairman), and Nance (secretary). Dues were set at $4 for ACM members and $8 for non-members. Later that year the new SIG co-sponsored, with the IEEE Computer Society, the first of what would be a long and successful series of joint bi-annual Data Communications Symposia, in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Many years later, in his preface to the Proceedings of the 1986 SIGCOMM Conference, Kosinski recalled the original goal of SIGCOMM:

"When I formed SIGCOMM in 1969, it was with the intention that symposia be held to provide a technical interchange between computer and communication scientists. Following discussions with individuals in both laboratories, it was obvious that such a forum was necessary for information science to progress. I have been impressed with the many meetings and the progress that has been made through the SIGCOMM organization."

The first newsletter was published in December 1970. The name "Computer Communication Review" debuted with the second (March 1971) issue, which contained the first technical article to be published by SIGCOMM: "The Design of Visual Displays." Some things, of course, were different then; the July 1969 issue of Communications of the ACM, for example, carried the following advertisement for a Datapoint terminal:

"It comes packaged in a handsome totally self-contained unit, comparable in size to an executive typewriter, which blends well with today's office environment. The female help will love the 3300's appearance, as well as its ease of usage."

But other things were remarkably, even eerily, the same then as now. Anyone who is impressed by the "new world" of broadband networking, and the potential for building broadband networks using the television cable plant, should go back and read the report in the March 1971 issue of CCR of the ACM '70 Conference, which included a presentation by John Lady of the National Cable Television Association entitled "The Broadband Communications Network and the Computer: Partners in the Wired City."

The SIGCOMM membership elected its officers for the first time in 1979, installing Bob Kahn as chairman, Alex McKenzie as vice-chairman, and Wushow Chou as secretary-treasurer. In 1983, the first SIGCOMM Symposium on Communications Architectures and Protocols was held in Austin, Texas, with David Wood as general chairman and Simon Lam as chairman of the program committee. The 1984 SIGCOMM Symposium was held in Montreal. The ninth and last joint Data Communications Symposium was co-sponsored by SIGCOMM in lieu of a Symposium in 1985, but since 1986 the Symposium (which was called the "Workshop on Frontiers in Computer Communications Technology" in 1987, and since 1991 has been called the "SIGCOMM Conference") has been an annual event, appearing in Stowe, Vermont (twice, in 1986 and 1987), Stanford, Austin, Philadelphia, Zurich, Baltimore, San Francisco, London, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The first student paper awards were presented to Lixia Zhang (now an associate editor of CCR) and Brett Fleisch at the 1986 Symposium. Since then, the program committee has selected one or more papers written entirely or primarily by full-time students to receive this award each year. An annual SIGCOMM Award, for "lifetime achievement in and contribution to the field of data communications", was created in 1989 to recognize a person whose work, over the course of his or her career, represents a significant contribution to the field and a substantial influence on the work and perceptions of others in the field. The first Award went to Paul Baran, and has in subsequent years honored David Clark, Leonard Kleinrock, Hubert Zimmerman, Sandy Fraser, Bob Kahn, Paul Green, and David Farber.

SIGCOMM has enjoyed a long history of collaboration with other professional societies, stretching back to the first joint Data Communications Symposium with the IEEE Computer Society shortly after its founding in 1969. In the 1970s SIGCOMM and SIGOPS co-sponsored several conferences and workshops, including the 1975 Interprocess Communications Workshop, at which one of the papers included in this retrospective was presented. The series of Data Communications Symposia came to an end after 1985, when SIGCOMM's own Symposium became an annual event. In 1991 we began co-sponsoring the annual Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference with SIGCAS (Computers and Society) and SIGSAC (Security, Audit and Control), and in 1993 joined SIGBIO, SIGBIT, SIGCHI, SIGGRAPH, SIGIR, and SIGOIS to launch the ACM Multimedia Conferences. The first International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, for which SIGCOMM has teamed with SIGACT, SIGMETRICS, SIGMOD, and SIGOPS, will be held on November 14-15, 1995, and is expected to become a regular annual addition to the ACM conference calendar. We have also joined with the IEEE Computer and Communication Societies to co-publish the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, an immediately successful refereed journal that first appeared in February, 1992.


SIGCOMM enjoys a healthy and growing fund balance, and has had no difficulty establishing and adhering to a balanced budget during the past five years. The SIG's well-established and long-term financial health permitted the executive committee to reduce regular membership dues from $22 to $19, starting with new memberships and renewals in calendar year 1995.

At SIGCOMM's annual business meeting, conducted during the Conference on August 30, 1995, the following financial summary was presented by the secretary/treasurer:

1. Financial Summary 1995 (in thousands)

 Non-conference Revenue:  $131 Non-conference Expense:  $145  ----Net (non-conference)  (14)  Conference Revenue  $228 Conference Expense  $178  ----Net (conference)  $ 50  Overall Net:  $ 36  

2. FY96 PLAN Summary (1 July 1995 - 30 June 1996)

  Revenue: $108k (non-conf)  Partial Sources  ---------------  Dues:  $65 (Note this is with dues reduction)  Subscriptions:  13  Libraries:  13  Interest:  11  Expenses: $156k (non-conf)  Partial List  ------------  CCR/SIGCOMM95  Proceedings  $58  East European  3  Student Travel  10  Special Projects  9  Net: $(48) non-conference  


In addition to the many conferences to which it lends "in cooperation with" support, SIGCOMM is directly responsible for four major ACM technical conferences.

The SIGCOMM Conference

The annual SIGCOMM conference continues to be one of the most highly regarded venues for the presentation of current research and experimental results by members of the data communication and networking community. Survey results show that of the 220 (on average) conference attendees, about 75% are "core" SIGCOMM participants, for whom the SIGCOMM conference is a regular and important part of their professional schedules.

Over the past decade, SIGCOMM's officers have tried to arrange for the annual Conference to be held in a variety of venues in the eastern and western halves of North America and in Europe, in roughly regular alternation. This tradition suggests a western North America venue for the 1996 conference, and a European venue for 1997. (The executive committee has discussed the viability of a SIGCOMM conference in other parts of the world, but the SIG's constituency at this point is overwhelmingly North American and European, and we have as yet seen no convincing proposal for a conference elsewhere.) In recent years, SIGCOMM has held its annual conference in Philadelphia (1990), Zurich (1991), Baltimore (1992), San Francisco (1993), and London (1994).

The 1995 Conference was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 30 -September 1, 1995. Stuart Wecker, one of ACM's first Fellows, served as the general chair; Karen Sollins and Dave Clark co-chaired the program committee Tutorials were presented on August 29. This year's conference included two new features: a one-day invited workshop on "Middleware", which immediately preceeded the conference, and an evening "outrageous opinions" session (informally referred to as "open mike night") at the midpoint of the regular conference schedule. Both events received enthusiastic reviews from participants.

Proposals for the next two SIGCOMM Conferences have been approved by the Executive Committee and await approval by ACM. Assuming that the proposals satisfy ACM's requirements, SIGCOMM 96 will be held at Stanford University on August 28-30, 1996, with Craig Partridge (BBN) as general chairman and Deborah Estrin and Sally Floyd as program co-chairs; SIGCOMM 97 will be held at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes on September 17-19, 1997, with Christophe Diot (INRIA) as general chairman and Scott Shenker and Christian Huitema as program co-chairs.

Computers, Freedom and Privacy

In 1992, SIGCOMM undertook a 50% sponsorship of the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, which has developed into a long-term commitment of support for an annual CFP conference. Two other ACM SIGs, SIGSAC and SIGCAS, each provide a 25% sponsorship. CFP has established itself as an important venue for the discussion of issues related to the interaction between computer communication and human values. MIT will host CFP '96.


SIGCOMM, in cooperation with the other SIGs that are represented on the ACM "Multimedia Steering Committee", continues to provide support to the annual ACM Multimedia Conference. This year the Multimedia Conference will be held on November 5-9 at the Hyatt Regency (Embarcadero) in San Francisco. The sponsoring SIGs for 1995 are SIGMM, SIGCHI, SIGGRAPH, SIGBIT, SIGBIO, SIGCOMM, SIGIR, and SIGOIS; "in cooperation" are SIGAPP, SIGCAPH, SIGMOD, and SIGOPS.

Mobile Computing and Networking

The First International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, dubbed "MobiCom '95", will be held on November 13-15 at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California. Imrich Chlamtac and Dave Morgan share the general chair responsibilities; Daniel Duchamp and Baruch Awerbuch jointly chair the program committee. The first Mobicom is sponsored by four ACM SIGs (SIGCOMM, SIGOPS, SIGMETRICS, and SIGACT), with additional sponsorship from NASA.

The venue for next year's planned Mobicom '96 has not yet been determined, but Randy Katz (UC Berkeley) and Hamid Ahmadi (IBM) have agreed to serve as general co-chairs, and Ian Akyildiz (Georgia Tech) and Zygmunt Haas (Cornell) will co-chair the program committee.

Student Travel Grants

This year SIGCOMM's executive committee approved the creation of a new program to fund grants to selected graduate students to enable them to attend the annual SIGCOMM Conference. This grant program is patterned after a very successful travel grant program funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation for SIGCOMM '94. The purpose of the program is to encourage student participation in the Conference by providing travel funds to students who would not otherwise be able to attend the conference. In 1994, the NSF program provided travel grants to ten students (chosen from among forty-three applicants). This year, a grant committee chaired by Craig Partridge selected xx students (chosen from among yy applicants) to receive travel funds. The program administers funds provided both by SIGCOMM and by corporate and organizational sponsors.


The SIGCOMM newsletter, the Computer Communication Review, has maintained a regular quarterly publication schedule (January, April, July, and October) with, on average, 120 content pages per issue (not counting the Proceedings of the annual SIGCOMM Conference, which are published in a separate binding and distributed with the October issue of CCR).

Beginning with the July 1995 issue of CCR, Martha Steenstrup succeeded Dave Oran as editor. Martha is a senior scientist in the Advanced Internetworking Research Group at BBN Inc, where her primary responsibilities have been the development of routing and flow control algorithms for wireline and wireless data networks.

The January 1995 issue of CCR, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the SIG and of CCR itself, is described above under "25th Anniversary". The April 1995 issue of CCR was guest-edited by Raj Jain and Sunny Siu; it focused on Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) networks.

The IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking journal was launched in 1993 as a collaborative enterprise of SIGCOMM, the IEEE Computer Society, and the IEEE Communications Society. The new Transactions continues to be phenomenally successful, with just over 8,000 individual subscribers at the end of calendar year 1994.


The SIGCOMM Award recognizes lifetime achievement in and contributions to the field of data communications. It is awarded annually to a person whose work, over the course of his or her career, represents a significant contribution to the field and a substantial influence on the work and perceptions of others in the field. The winner receives a $2,000 cash award and a plaque commemorating the award, which are presented to the winner by the SIGCOMM chairman during the opening session of the SIGCOMM conference. The winner is also invited to deliver a keynote address to the opening session. The names of all of the SIGCOMM award winners are printed in each issue of the SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review.

The winner of the 1995 Award is David Farber: "For vision and breadth of contributions to, and inspiration of others in, computer networks, distributed computing, and network infrastructure development." The past winners of the Award are Paul Baran, David Clark, Leonard Kleinrock, Hubert Zimmerman, Alexander Fraser, Robert Kahn, and Paul Green.


SIGCOMM's total membership has declined steadily year to year for the past five years. The membership decline slowed considerably during FY95.

During CY94 SIGCOMM launched two membership initiatives, one aimed at membership attrition (SIGCOMM members who chose not to renew their membership) and one aimed at attracting new members.

(1) A letter from the SIGCOMM chairman was sent to every "lapsed" member a month or so after non-renewal, pointing out the benefits of SIGCOMM membership and encouraging the non-renewer to re-enlist. The letter included a membership application form and a postage-paid reply card with several "post-mortem" survey questions for non-renewers who decided to persist in their apostasy.

(2) A letter from the SIGCOMM chairman describing the SIG and its benefits, and including a membership application and the April 1994 issue of CCR, was mailed in June (1994) to a list that included more than 5,000 subscribers to the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking (from which current SIGCOMM members had been removed).

The results of these initiatives have not yet been compiled, but are expected to provide valuable information to the executive committee in its efforts to halt or reverse the decline in SIGCOMM membership.

Early this year (1995) we began to mail a complimentary copy of the notes from one of the most highly regarded SIGCOMM Conference tutorials - Van Jacobson's 1994 "Multimedia Conferencing on the Internet" - to every new or renewing member. This benefit will continue through the end of CY95. We have also begun to distribute copies of the January 1995 "Anniversary" issue of CCR (along with brochures and other membership information) at conferences and workshops whenever the availability of volunteer manpower permits.

Information Services

With the deployment of a generally-accessible World Wide Web server at ACM, SIGCOMM's web page at has been linked to ACM's page at . Greg Wetzel serves as SIGCOMM's information services director.


The SIGCOMM executive committee consists of the three officers, Jon Crowcroft (chairman), Sally Floyd (vice-chairman), and Pat Dowd (secretary-treasurer); the CCR editor, Martha Steenstrup; the information services director, Greg Wetzel; and the past chairman, Lyman Chapin. They can be reached by Internet electronic mail at .