2017 Annual Report

SIGCOMM FY’16 Annual Report July 2016 - June 2017

Submitted by: S. Keshav, Chair

SIGCOMM is ACM's professional forum for the discussion of topics in the field of communications and computer networks, including technical design and engineering, regulation and operations, and the social implications of computer networking. SIG members are particularly interested in the systems engineering and architectural questions of communications.

SIGCOMM continues to be a vibrant organization serving a broad community of researchers from both academia and industry interested in all aspects of computer networking. We 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.



The SIG sponsors an eponymous flagship conference as well as, solely: CoNEXT, eEnergy, Information-Centric Networking (ICN), and HotNets Workshop; and jointly: Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), SenSys, ACM/IEEE Symposium on Architectures for Networking and Communications Systems (ANCS), Symposium on SDN Research (SOSR), and ANRW, the joint ACM, ISOC, IRTF Applied Networking Research Workshop.

Our flagship conference, continuing our policy of rotation among regions on a 3-year cycle, was held in Florianopolis, Brazil (the wildcard location in the rotation) in August 2016. We substantially increased our travel grant support for students to attend this more remote location. The conference had an attendance of about 325 participants. This was less than half of our usual attendance, due entirely to the Zika scare on social media that kept many participants away, despite the facts on the ground. Florianopolis is in southern Brazil, with cool winter weather during August, so there were no mosquitos and no Zika. Nevertheless, many participants were unwilling to travel through Rio and Sao Paolo. To deal with this, we made arrangements for some talks to be presented as pre-recorded videos, followed by questions on the phone. This turned out to be quite good, overall, with some participants saying that the experience was even better than an in-person presentation!

The conference made a small profit, as did most of our other conferences. The overall financial strength of the SIG, therefore, continues to be extremely strong, which allows us considerable freedom to support the community and to be innovative.

As in previous years, we continued to financially support regional conferences in computer networking. 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 will also support a new conference focussed in Asia-Pacific, APNET, whose first edition will be held in Fall 2017. 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.

We are in-cooperation with a number of events, including the International Conference on Network and Service Management (CNSM), the International Teletraffic Congress (ITC), Multimedia Systems (MMSys), the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI), the Workshop on Network and Systems Support for Games (NetGames), and the International conference on Networked Systems (NetSys) besides the aforementioned COMSNETS, AINTEC, and APNET.


SIG Operation

SIG elections were held this year and the elected members as well three other members of the EC have stepped down. The new Chair is Roch Guerin, the new Vice-Chair is Aditya Akella, and the new Secretary-Treasurer is Lars Eggert.

We continue to work with MeetGreen to provide administrative support to our volunteers. By taking on registration and travel grant duties, MeetGreen has allowed us to reduce the number of errors made by volunteers and also made it easier for our volunteers to serve as conference managers.



Our newsletter, Computer Communications Review (CCR), is 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.



This year, SIGCOMM recognized Prof. Raj Jain, Washington University in St. Louis, with the SIGCOMM Award for Lifetime Achievement; he will receive the award and present a keynote talk at the annual SIGCOMM conference in August 2017 in Los Angeles. He was recognized "For life-long contributions to computer networking including traffic management, congestion control, and performance analysis." The award committee consisted of Bruce Davie, Albert Greenberg, Nick McKeown (chair), Radia Perlman, and Don Towsley.

There are two winners of the 2016 Doctoral Dissertation Award, Justine Sherry from the University of California at Berkeley, and Vamsi Talla from the University of Washington. The award committee consisted of Fabián Bustamante, Rodrigo Fonseca, Dave Levin (chair), and Ellen Zegura.

Justine's thesis, "Middleboxes as a Cloud Service" was cited as follows. "Sherry’s dissertation proposes that advanced network functions be implemented as software services running in the cloud, and develops in depth the algorithms and system designs needed to realize this vision in practice." Justine's advisor was Sylvia Ratnasamy.

Vamsi's thesis, "Power, Communication and Sensing Solutions for Energy Constrained Platforms" was cited as follows. "Talla's dissertation introduces techniques that make it possible to build low-power sensors and devices that consume no energy beyond what is already in the air, in ambient RF signals such as cellular, TV, and Wi-Fi." Vamsi's advisor was Joshua Smith.

The winner of the SIGCOMM 2016 Rising Star Award is Vyas Sekar. "The award is in recognition of outstanding research contributions, early in his career, in the areas of network middleboxes, video quality of experience, and network security." The award committee consisted of Serge Fdida, Dina Papagiannaki, Craig Partridge, Patrick Thiran, and Tilman Wolf (chair).

Two papers were selected for the 2017 SIGCOMM Test of Time Award. The first is titled "Ethane: Taking control of the Enterprise" (SIGCOMM 2007) , by Martin Casado, Michael J. Freedman, Justin Pettit, Jianying Luo, Nick McKeown, and Scott Shenker. The citation for the award is "Ethane ushered in the age of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and a new generation of research that inspired both academia and industry to design network control planes that we can reason about."

The second paper is titled "Measurement and analysis of online social networks" (IMC 2007), by Alan Mislove, Massimiliano Marcon, Krishna P. Gummadi, Peter Druschel, and Bobby Bhattacharjee. The citation is "This is one of the first papers that examine multiple online social networks at scale. By introducing novel measurement techniques, the paper has had an enduring influence on the analysis, modeling and design of modern social media and social networking services ."

The award committee was composed of composed of Katerina Argyraki, Matthew Roughan, Walter Willinger (chair), and Heather Zheng.

At the ACM level, six SIGCOMM members have been selected as ACM Fellows this year: Paul Barford, Robert Grossman, Joseph Bryan Lyles, Venkata N Padmanabhan, Nick Feamster, Adrian Perrig.. Three other members of the community were recognized as ACM Distinguished Scientists: Raheem Abdul Beyah, Rudra Dutta, and Pan Hui.


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:

  • We are providing student travel grants of $200K to support student attendance at all of our sponsored conferences.

  • We continue to support national networking summits with grants totalling $30K, to be given in the form of student travel grants.

  • We have continued funding for summer schools in the area of networking.

  • We held preview talks to give background for the technical sessions at SIGCOMM 2015 and 2016. This helps new community members come up to speed on ‘hot’ topic areas

  • We have continued the practice of waiving 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.

  • Three years ago, 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. In this past year, Nick McKeown and Christophe Diot stepped down from the board and Jeff Mogul and Dave Oran have joined. Renata Teixeira is stepping down as the chair and Venkat Padmanabhan is serving as the new chair from July 2017.


The SIGCOMM industrial liaison board has worked on many fronts to increase industry-academic collaboration:

  • Continued the industrial demo session at the SIGCOMM 2016 conference. This year the board accepted six industrial demos. The industrial demos are becoming a tradition at SIGCOMM, so starting in 2017 they will be part of the regular conference organization with dedicated industrial demo co-chairs.

  • Creation of the “SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award”, which is awarded to an institution or individual(s) to recognize the development of a networking system that has had a significant impact on the world of computer networking. The impact may be reflected in the wide-spread adoption of the system or its underlying concepts by the wider networking community either in research projects, in the open-source community, or commercially.

  • Formalized the “industry days” with an open call with two deadlines per year. The goal of "Industry Days" is to increase the opportunities for collaboration between industry and academia in the field of networking. An industry day will generally focus on a narrow topic that should attract industrial interest. The first industry day was the "Workshop on Research and Applications of Internet Measurements" (RAIM) organized in Japan in November 2015 in close proximity to both the IETF meeting and the IMC conference. The second was the “Wireless Networking Industry Day” in March 2016 co-location with NSDI.

  • Continued the editorial series in CCR entitled "Examples of Research Affecting the Practice of Networking”. The latest article appeared in the July 2016 issue of CCR on “Research Impacting the Practice of Congestion Control” by Nandita Dukkipati , Yuchung Cheng, Amin Vahdat. We are discussing with the CCR editor to identify a sub-set of the CCR editorial board who will help find articles for this column in a regular basis.

Events or programs that broadened participation either geographically, or among under-represented members of your community

  • To support the participation of women in SIG conferences and in our community, we 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).

  • To further support geodiversity, we now also provide travel grants for program committee members from developing countries to travel to program committee meetings

Key issues facing the SIG

It appears that computer communication is no longer a ‘hot’ topic these days; the focus has moved to topics such as robotics, AI, big data, and deep learning. Consequently, there has been a decline in the number of both researchers and students interested in the area, compared to the situation a some years ago. We expect this to be reflected in the numbers of papers and attendees at our conferences and workshops. This is probably a healthy change for us, in the long term, in that it will result in a consolidation of research areas rather than a rush to publication based on speculatory and perhaps less well-grounded work.