SIGCOMM FY’13 Annual Report July 2012 - June 2013
Submitted by: S. Keshav, Chair
SIGCOMM continues to be a vibrant organization serving the broad community of people interested in all aspects of computer networking. We continue to sponsor several successful, single-track, high-impact conferences, several of these being in co-operation with other SIGs. There are a number of highlights to report from the past year.
SIG elections were held in April 2013 and the new executive committee took office on July 1, 2013. The new roster of officers is as follows:
It is worth remarking that only one of our officers is from the USA, reflecting the truly multi-national nature of computer networking research.
Our flagship conference, continuing our policy of rotation among regions on a 3-year cycle, was held in Hong Kong (the ‘wild-card’ location in the rotation) in August 2013. The conference was very successful with a record high attendance of 777 participants, strong fundraising, and an overall surplus of more than $175,000 that helped the SIG maintain its exceptionally strong financial position.
This year, the SIG agreed to sponsor of the ACM Conference on Information-Centric Networking (ICN), a new conference in this exciting area. The fundamental concept in Information-Centric Networking (ICN) is to provide accessing named data as a principal network service, evolving the Internet from today’s host based packet delivery towards directly retrieving information objects by names in a secure, reliable, scalable, and efficient way. These architectural design efforts aim to directly address the challenges that arise from the increasing demands for highly scalable content distribution, from accelerated growths of mobile devices, from wide deployment of Internet-of-things (IoT), and from the need to secure the global Internet. ACM ICN will be a single track conference focusing on current ICN research topics, featuring paper presentations and demonstrations. The first instance will be held 24--26 September 2014 in Paris (France). See: http://conferences2.sigcomm.org/acm-icn/2014/ for details.
As in previous years, we continued to fund programs to support regional conferences in the networking field. The current set of regional conferences we support financially includes COMSNETS, a major networking conference in India, the Latin American Networking Conference (LANC) and the Asian Internet Engineering Conference (AINTEC). We continue to foster the success of these conferences by means such as invited speaker travel funds and student travel grants. In addition to supporting regional conferences, the SIG provides generous general student travel support to all of its sponsored conferences.
CCR continues to be widely respected as a journal with high quality and timely publication. CCR turnaround time is rapid compared to most journals: for technical papers it is 8 weeks for review and 16 weeks for publication; for editorials it is 1-3 days for review and 6 weeks for publication. We continue to offer both online and print access to the newsletter. Starting in 2012, we offer discounted, online-only SIG membership that does not include a print copy of the journal. SIG members who still desire a print membership can continue to receive a print copy (at a slightly higher membership rate).
This year, SIGCOMM recognized Prof. George Varghese, UC San Diego with the SIGCOMM award for lifetime achievement; he will receive the award and present a keynote talk at the annual SIGCOMM conference in August 2014 in Chicago. He was recognized for sustained and diverse contributions to network algorithmics, with far reaching impact in both research and industry.
The Doctoral Dissertation Award went to Aaron Schulman (Stanford University) for his thesis entitled “Observing and Improving the Reliability of Internet Last-Mile Links.” The dissertation provides the first observations of fundamental factors that limit the reliability of the Internet’s critical last-mile infrastructure and presents improvements to mitigate the effects of these factors.
The SIGCOMM Rising Star award was given to 2013 to Sachin Katti (Stanford University). The award is in recognition of outstanding research contributions, early in his career, in wireless communications and networking. His approach to cross-layer wireless design brings together computer networking, signal processing and information theory to solve long-standing problems in wireless networks. Highlights of his research contributions include a practical approach to achieve full-duplex radios (Mobicom'10, MOBICOM'11, SIGCOMM'13) and rateless network design for practical adapation of sender transmission rate (SIGCOMM'11, MOBICOM'12). To quote from his nomination "Sachin Katti’s research has transformed the way we think about wireless communications."
The Test of Time award was shared by “Congestion Control for High Bandwidth-Delay Product Networks,” by Dina Katabi, Mark Handley, and Charlie Rohrs and “Measuring ISP Topologies with Rocketfuel,” by Neil Spring, Ratul Mahajan, and David Wetherall.
During the year, three SIGCOMM members were recognized as ACM Fellows: Chip Elliot, Dina Katabi, and Ellen Zegura.
Support for the community and new projects
The SIG has been using its strong financial position to initiate and support a number of activities, as discussed next:
o Two years ago, we set a seed fund to support a variety of community projects, for which (academic) institutions can apply to support services for the networking community. One of the most successful of these projects in 2013 was led by the SIGCOMM Education Chair, Olivier Bonaventure and IS director Hamed Haddadi, who produced an e-book on “Recent Advances in Networking.” The book consists of contributed chapters on a range of advanced topics, and was released at the time of the annual conference in August 2013. The book is freely accessible at http://www.sigcomm.org/content/ebook. Discussion on revising/extending the ebook are ongoing. We have budgeted $20K to support new such grants in the current year.
o We are providing student travel grants of $160K to support student attendance at *all* of our sponsored conferences.
o We support fast-tracked journal papers from our sponsored conferences by covering fees for extra pages for the authors.
o We increased our support for educational activities by introducing funding for summer schools in the area of networking. The first one to receive funding was the 4th PhD school on Traffic Monitoring and Analysis (TMA), held 14-16 April 2014 at Queen Mary University London (QMUL), UK.
o We have started to subsidize childcare at our sponsored conferences, for which the SIGCOMM 2014 conference in Chicago serves as initial trial. Here, we are subsidizing full-time child care using a cost sharing model for parents attending the conference.
o This year, we set up an industrial liaison board whose goal is to come up with ideas and suggestions to increase industry participation at SIG-sponsored conferences. A better industry-academic collaboration should help improve the practice of networking, because academics have many ideas that are likely to be of value to industry; and also improve academic research, because industry has many interesting problems that would benefit academic research; and create opportunity for students.
The board members are:
o In the SIGCOMM 2014 conference, we have initiated industry demos in addition to those accepted via the regular call demos.
o We have established a portal for job opportunities on our web site.
o Finally, we are temporarily removing the SIGCOMM contingency share for our fully sponsored conferences to give the organizers more flexibility and allow them reducing registration fees. To remain fiscally prudent, we will review this every year for every sponsored conference.
Events or programs that broadened participation either geographically, or among under-represented members of your community
The SIGCOMM conference hosts a full day event of Networking Networking Women (N^2women) this year (to rotate across our and other ACM events). We also support N^2women lunches at all our conferences.
In addition to the student travel grants, we are offering $40K for geodiversity grants to support faculty and students from under-represented regions in attending our sponsored conferences. This enables graduate students and young faculty from under-represented regions to attend our flagship conference. We have also increased the volumes of individual grants to that awardees can benefit from attending the full event, including workshops.
We are maintaining in-cooperation status and travel support with a number of conference events of particular regional importance (COMSNETS, LANC, AINTEC).
Last but not least, we have implemented mechanisms to enforce the ACM policy countering inappropriate behaviour at our venues.
Key issues facing the SIG
The SIG faces two key issues. First, we have an embarrassingly large reserve fund of more than $1.6 million. We have tried to spend this down by removing contingency amounts in all our conference budgets (thus reducing registration fees) and by substantially increasing our investment in the community, as documented above. However, our balance has not declined over the past many yearsß, mostly because of our cost-conscious conference organizers and prudent spending (for instance, we do not give out complimentary registration to even the general chairs of our flagship conference). We will continue to increase our outlay on community support this coming year.
The second major issue that faces us is an issue that also faces ACM: the number of potential SIG members is far less than its actual membership. This is because nearly all of our benefits (conference attendance, CCR papers, job portal etc.) are available to non-members. We do not even require membership of our award winners! We are, by nature, inclusive, and do not wish membership to be a pre-requisite for participation in any of our activities, but this also means that our membership numbers are much smaller than they could be. We will continue to investigate means by which we can make SIG membership valuable, so that participants in our SIG activities would, of their own volition, choose to become members.