SIGCOMM FY’19 Annual Report July 2018 - June 2019
Submitted by: R. Guerin, 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 them in cooperation with other SIGs. There are a number of highlights to report from the past year.

Conferences and associated support
The SIG sponsors an eponymous flagship conference and is the sole sponsor of the following conferences: CoNEXT, Information-Centric Networking (ICN), and the HotNets Workshop.  The eEnergy conference previously sponsored by the SIG was successfully migrated to the recently formed Energy EIG in 2019, but the SIG agreed to allow the surplus of the 2018 edition of the conference to be used to support travel grants for the 2019 edition.  The SIG also co-sponsors the following conferences: 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.
In addition to conferences we sponsor or co-sponsor, 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), the International conference on Networked Systems (NetSys), the Network Traffic Measurement and Analyis (TMA) conference, the BuildSys conference that was started by the newly formed e-Energy EIG, besides the aforementioned COMSNETS, AINTEC, and APNET conferences.
Continuing our policy of rotation among regions on a 3-year cycle, our flagship conference was held in Bucharest, Hungary, in August 2018, with an attendance of 741 vs. 785 in LA in 2017.  The 2019 edition of the SIGCOMM conference is scheduled to be held in August in Beijing, China.  As of mid-July (just before the end of early registration), registrations are already above 800 and we expect a total attendance in excess of 1000 driven largely by strong local participation. This relative success notwithstanding (increasing involvement from Chinese colleagues was a major motivation behind the selection of Beijing), the organization of the conference has been a constant challenge.  Some of it is attributable to communication difficulties and cultural differences, but there have also been unanticipated problems caused by local rules and regulations and lack of experience in dealing with them, both at the level of the SIG and that of ACM.  Although a number of lessons were learned by going through the process of having SIGCOMM 2019 in Beijing, the experience made us more acutely aware of the many challenges involved in organizing a large conference in China.  If we are to hold another of our sponsored conferences in China, it will be important to draw on this experience to try to avoid some of the mistakes made this time around, and make sure that organizers step into it with open eyes.
On the financial front, the 2018 edition of the SIGCOMM conference currently lists a deficit of ~$15k, but this is because the processing of the VAT refund filed with the Hungarian government is still pending.  We expect that once it is processed, the conference will have a reasonable surplus.  With the exception of the CoNEXT conference that had a small loss, all other SIG (co-)sponsored conferences registered surpluses, so that the SIG’s finances continue to be strong.  This has allowed us to continue to offer and even expand a strong travel grant program with a special focus on increasing diversity.  In particular, as discussed in the “Diversity and Outreach” section, the SIG has expanded its support for N2Women and entered in an agreement with them to, in addition to the dinner held each year at the SIGCOMM conference, now also have one N2Women workshop to be held at one of the SIG’s sponsored or co-sponsored conferences.  In addition, after ending our support for the LANC conference, we rebooted our efforts to seek greater participation from South America by launching the LANCOMM student workshop that was held this year with the SBRC conference in Brazil. 
More generally, we continue to foster the success of our sponsored conferences through generous general student travel support (totaling close to a $100k per annum) as well as invited speaker travel funds and special diversity grants to facilitate participation in PC meetings by members from under-represented areas. 
In addition, the SIG continues to financially support, i.e., through a range of (travel) grants aimed at students and/or junior faculty, several regional conferences in computer networking. The current set of regional conferences we support financially includes COMSNETS, a major networking conference in India, the Asian Internet Engineering Conference (AINTEC), and a new conference focused on the Asia-Pacific region, APNET, whose first edition was held in Fall 2017 (only in-cooperation support was provided in 2019).  COMSNETS has been quite successful and has become a strong regional event in its own right, while AINTEC has not fully realized its original goals of broadening participation in the Asia-Pacific region, in part because the conference has remained anchored at the same location in Thailand.  We had previously given feedback to the organizers recommending that they explore alternative locations, but although they plan to hold next year’s conference outside of Thailand, they were not able to do so this year.  As a result, the SIG shifted its support to that we afford to local conferences and asked that the support be in the form of student travel grants.  Last but not least, as mentioned above, although the SIG ended its support for the Latin American Networking Conference (LANC), it launched a new student workshop, LANCOMM, for which it provided both student travel grants as well as support to invite keynote speakers with whom the students could interact. 
The SIG also supports a handful of summer schools with grants of up to $25k, including the PhD School on Traffic Measurement and Analysis (TMA) co-located with the in-cooperation conference of the same name that was held in Paris, France, in June 2019, the New England Networking and Systems (NENS) Day held yearly in the North-East region of the US and that took place at MIT in April 2019, and for the first time in  2019 the PAM PhD School held in conjunction with the Passive and Active Measurements (PAM) conference that was held in March 2019 in Chile.
In addition, the SIG offers support for special initiatives upon request.  One such example is travel grants in support of a “Shadow PC” for the 2018 IMC conference.  The grants supported both travel by students to an in-person shadow PC meeting that was held in parallel to an online shadow PC meeting involving a different set of students.  Travel to the IMC conference itself was also supported during which the participants shared their respective experience.  A short report documenting the findings was generated by the organizers that identified that there did not seem to be meaningful differences in the quality of the outcome of the in-person and online shadow PC meetings, but that, not unexpectedly, the in-person shadow PC meeting was much more useful from a networking standpoint.  A similar grant has been approved for another edition of this experiment in 2019.
Miscellaneous.  We are continuing the practice of waiving the SIGCOMM contingency share for our fully sponsored conferences to give the organizers more flexibility and allow them to keep registration fees as low as possible.   
On the logistics front, the SIG switched from using MeetGreen to AMS to provide administrative support to our volunteers, and we are currently reviewing the range of services we offer to our volunteers through AMS.  In particular, we are contemplating migrating our website from ACM to a site professionally supported by AMS.  This will be at an added cost, but has been motivated by a recurring set of problems in the area of security and reliability with the service currently offered by ACM.  We are also exploring the possibility of having AMS coordinate the travel grant reimbursement process for events that we support but that are not associated with sponsored conferences that are the only ones that ACM is willing to handle.

The SIG’s newsletter, Computer Communications Review (CCR), continues to publish four issues per year. Since 2016, CCR is published entirely on both the ACM Digital Library and at https://ccronline.sigcomm.org. We publish two types of articles: technical papers and editorial contributions. The editorial contributions range from meeting reports to reflections on the evolution of the field. Technical papers are peer-reviewed by members of the editorial board and external reviewers. 
In order to encourage the authors to release their artifacts (software, datasets, measurements, ...) the papers that release their artifacts can be longer than the regular six-pages limit for technical papers.  In 2018, we organized an Artifacts evaluation committee that reviewed the artifacts of papers accepted by any SIGCOMM conference or Computer Communication Review. This committee assigned ACM reproducibility badges to 28 papers. A similar committee evaluated the artifacts of the CoNEXT papers. It assigned badges to 12 different papers. Additional information about this evaluation has been summarized in an editorial published in the April 2019 issue of CCR.

SIGCOMM Lifetime Achievement Award:  This year, SIGCOMM recognized Prof. Mark Handley from University College London with the SIGCOMM Award for Lifetime Achievement; He will receive the award and present a keynote talk at the annual SIGCOMM conference in August 2018 in Beijing, China. He is recognized “for fundamental contributions to Internet multimedia, multicast, congestion control, and multi-path networks, and the standardization of Internet protocols in these domains.”
The award committee was comprised of Anja Feldman (MPI), Ellen Zegura (Georgia Tech), Hari Balakrishnann (MIT), Srinivasan Keshav (University of Waterloo), and Sujata Banerjee (VMWare, chair).
SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis in Computer Networking and Data Communication: The award for the best doctoral dissertation submitted in 2018 went to Ryan Beckett for his thesis titled “Network Control Plane Synthesis And Verification”. His thesis was cited “for pioneering contributions in extending the field of network control plane verification and synthesis”. The committee also made an honorary mention to Arpit Gupta for his thesis “Flexible and Scalable Systems for Network Management”, recognizing “impactful work on Software Defined Internet Exchange Point design and implementation”.
The committee consisted of John W. Byers (Boston University), Dejan Kostic (KTH), Nikolaos Laoutaris (IMDEA, chair), Anees Shaikh (Google), and Steve Uhlig (Queen Mary University of London).
SIGCOMM Rising Star Award: The recipient of the 2018 SIGCOMM Rising Star Award was Nate Foster from Cornell University.   The award was in recognition of outstanding research contributions, early in his career, to programmable networks and network verification. His interdisciplinary work brings techniques from programming languages to bear on fundamental networking problems. 
The 2018 rising star award committee consisted of Vyas Sekar (CMU), Alex Snoeren (UCSD) Jia Wang (AT&T, chair), and Walter Willinger (Niksun).

SIGCOMM Test of Time Paper Award: 
One paper was selected for the 2019 award by a committee composed of Hitesh Ballani (MSR, chair), Mark Handley (UCL), Z. Morley Mao (UMich), and Mohammadreza Alizadeh Attar (MIT).  The paper was: “VL2: A Scalable and Flexible Data Center Network" by Albert Greenberg, James R. Hamilton, Navendu Jain, Srikanth Kandula, Changhoon Kim, Parantap Lahiri, Dave A. Maltz, Parveen Patel, and Sudipta Sengupta. SIGCOMM 2009.
This paper articulated the core design principles that have become the foundation for modern datacenter networks: scalable Clos topologies, randomized load-balanced routing, and virtual networks constructed by decoupling endpoint addresses and locations. By convincingly arguing for these principles, and providing one of the first glimpses into real-world datacenter network traffic characteristics, this paper has had enduring impact on both the practice of datacenter network design and the large body of research on the topic that has followed over the last decade.

SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award: 
This award was awarded for the second time in 2019 by a committee comprised of: Ratul Mahajan (University of Washington), Kun Tan (Huawei), Xiaowei Yang (Duke University).  The committee selected the following contribution:
“Multipath TCP implementation in the Linux kernel”
Multipath TCP [RFC6824] is a recent TCP extension that enables the utilisation of multiple paths to exchange data over a single TCP connection. The development of Multipath TCP started in 2008 when a group of researchers convinced the IETF to work on developing multipath extensions to TCP. At the beginning, the IETF was skeptical. The implementation was developed in parallel with the standardisation work. Early experiments with this implementation revealed that deployed middleboxes were hindering the extensibility of TCP. A detailed measurement study confirmed those problems [Honda11]. Despite the interferences from middleboxes and thanks to the feedback from the implementation, the mptcp working group managed to ensure the deployability of Multipath [NSDI12]. Since then, various research groups have used this implementation to perform measurements, design extensions to Multipath TCP such as new congestion control schemes. The many citations to RFC6824 or NSDI12 illustrate the impact of Multipath TCP on the research community.
This implementation has also played a key role in the adoption of Multipath TCP within industry [RFC8041,IETFJ16]. Since 2013, Apple uses Multipath TCP on iOS, initially for the Siri application and since last year for any application. The main benefit that they see with Multipath TCP is the ability to support fast handovers from WiFi to cellular when the user is moving. Although Apple developed their own stack, the availability of the Linux implementation reassured them for the stability of the protocol and the possibility of using it on Linux servers. Korea Telecom has convinced Samsung and LG to use this Multipath TCP implementation in all their high-end smartphones to bond WiFi and cellular for premium users. The main benefit that they see with Multipath TCP is the ability of increasing the bandwidth offered to endusers. Another growing use case are the hybrid access networks. To provide higher bandwidth services, a growing number of network operators are deploying solutions to combine their xDSL and 4G networks. This is possible thanks to the availability of a Multipath TCP implementation in the Linux kernel which is the default operating system for xDSL CPE routers. Broadcom and intel include the Linux Multipath TCP implementation in the Software Development Kit that they provide for CPE vendors. Tessares, Soft@home and OVH have deployed hybrid access network services that rely on this implementation. Those hybrid access networks are typically deployed in rural areas where xDSL performance is poor due to line distance.
This implementation is freely available from https://www.multipath-tcp.org The development of new features is discussed on the mptcp-dev mailing list, https://listes-2.sipr.ucl.ac.be/sympa/info/mptcp-dev
The main developers were: Christoph Paasch, Sebastien Barre, Gregory Detal.  However, any recognition should also mention the other researchers who have contributed to the code. Based on the published change logs, these include (in alphabetical order):
Christoph Paasch (Apple), Sébastien Barré (Tessares), Gregory Detal (Tessares), Jaakko Korkeaniemi (Aalto University), Octavian Purdila (intel), Matthieu Baerts (Tessares), Kenjiro Nakayama (Redhat), Mihai P. Andrei (intel), Doru Gucea (intel), Cristina Ciocan (intel), Benjamin Hesmans (Tessares), Per Hurtig Karlstads University), François Finfe (Tessares), Fabrizio Demaria (intel), Fabien Duchêne (UCLouvain), Jaehyun Hwang (Bell Labs and Samsung Electronics), Andreas Seelinger (RWTH Aachen), Thibault Gérondal (Tessares), Stefan Sicleru (intel), Mat Martineau (intel), Peter Krystad (intel), Ossama Othman (intel), Florian Westphal (Redhat), Paolo Abeni (Redhat), Davide Caratti (Redhat), Lavkesh Lahngir, Kostas Peletidis, Irina Tirdea (intel), Viet-Hoang Tran (UCLouvain), Daniel Weber (University of Bonn), Catalin Nicutar (PUB Bucharest), Andrei Maruseac (intel), Andreas Ripke (NEC), Alexander Frömmgen (Google), Zhu Jian, Ycarus, Vlad Dogaru (intel), Valentin Ilie (intel), Tim Froidcoeur (Tessares),Takumi Shinkai (Okayama University), Sebastien Duponcheel (OVH), Savvas Zannettou (Cyprus University of Technology), Patrick Havelange (Tessares), Niels Möller, Niels Laukens (VRT), Kristian Evensen, Kacper Kolodziej, Jorge Boncompte, John Ronan (TSSG), Henrique Cabral, Frank Lenormand, Evelina Dumitrescu, Enhuan Dong,Duncan Eastoe, Christian Pinedo (University of the Basque Country), Cheng Cui (Netapp), Brandon Heller (Stanford University), Baptiste Jonglez (Univ. Grenoble Alpes), Anwar Walid (Nokia Bell Labs).
At the ACM level, several SIGCOMM members have been selected as ACM Fellows this year: Mario Gerla, Bruce Maggs, Vishal Misra, Guru Parulkar, Lili Qiu, and Alex Snoeren.  Other members of the community recognized as ACM Distinguished Members included Suman Banerjee, Falko Dressler, Deepak Ganesan, Stefan Saroiu, Karthikeyan Sundaresan, and Renata Cruz Teixeira.


Industry Liaison Board
The SIG’s industrial liaison board (ILB) was established three years ago with the goal of coming up with ideas and suggestions to increase industry participation at SIG-sponsored conferences. The ILB is currently chaired by Venkat Padmanabhan from Microsoft.  A summary of its recent activities follows:

  • Industry demos.  The call for industrial demos at SIGCOMM 2019 initially received a lukewarm response because of a combination of distance from the “center of gravity” of the SIGCOMM community and geopolitical tensions. However, the ILB encouraged the demo chairs to view the location as an opportunity to reach out to local industry and also helped with some targeted outreach. The end result is a good-sized program comprising 10 industrial demos (selected out of 12 submissions), split evenly between local and non-local companies.
  • Student dinner.  The ILB also collated and passed on to the 2019 chairs the “best practices” from recent SIGCOMM conferences on the organization of the student dinner, with a view to maximizing the opportunity for students to interact with industry attendees.
  • Industry Day.  Given the lukewarm response to the Industry Day events in the past for various reasons, including the availability of other forums for research-industry interaction (e.g., the Applied Networking Research Workshop (ANRW) collocated with IETF meetings), the ILB has put this initiative on hold. 
  • ILB structure.  The structure of the ILB has been formalized, with a size of 6 members, each serving a 3-year term. So 2 new members would join and 2 rotate out each year. The process of identifying and inviting new members is now underway.

Diversity and Outreach
N2Women partnership.  As mentioned earlier, in addition to the yearly dinner we host at the SIGCOMM conference, we formalized our partnership with N2Women to expand beyond the various travel grants we award to attend our major conferences. As part of our new agreement, we will co-organize a yearly workshop to be co-located with one of our main sponsored or co-sponsored conferences.  The first edition will be held this year in New York in conjunction with SenSys, a conference that is co-sponsored with SIGMOBILE.  In addition to a joint workshop, we are also supporting two new N2Women awards aimed at each year honoring two members of the community who have made significant contributions to leadership and mentoring of junior researchers from underrepresented communities.
CRA-W support. We continue to provide $15k in yearly support for the CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop, which is used to allow SIGCOMM students to attend the Workshop. We also support attendance of the workshop by a couple of senior SIG members to represent the SIG at the workshop.  The CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop is designed for women graduate students in computing fields. The workshop includes a mix of formal presentations, informal discussions and social events. Participants can build mentoring relationships and develop peer networks that are intended to form the basis for ongoing activities during their graduate career and beyond. In 2018, 4 senior SIGCOMM community members attended as mentors, but the number of students present with stated interests in areas related to the SIG was small. To increase participation, we compiled a list of over 250 email addresses of female students who had attended one or more of SIG sponsored conferences (and declared to be US based). We then used the list to disseminate the open call for CRA-W participation in the hope of increasing attendance by students from areas aligned with the SIG.  We also again arranged for the presence of three senior SIGCOMM researchers to attend the workshop and serve as mentors.  They called from University of Chicago, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Netflix.  The results of those efforts were somewhat ambivalent when it comes to increasing attendance from students working in areas related to the SIG.  We plan to explore additional outreach option in the next year, including reaching out to workshop participants to better understand what they viewed as the main benefits they derived from attending the workshop.
LANCOMM 2019 As mentioned earlier, we launched a new workshop in Latin America, called LANCOMM. The workshop was co-located with SBRC, a scientific conference on computer networks and distributed systems sponsored by the Brazilian Computer Society and attended by 600+ students, faculty and network operators.  The workshop was intended to fill the gap left by LANC, providing a fresh start. Besides guidance regarding the workshop’s organization and structure, we contributed funding to support three invited speakers and a great number of travel grants.  The latter allowed students and young faculty from all over Latin America to attend the event. The workshop program consisted of five sessions: an opening session; a panel with invited speakers to discuss challenges faced by PhD students and compare the realities of carrying out research in the US and Latin America; two poster sessions in which the invited speakers toured the posters and provided feedback; and a closing session in which the best posters were presented. Throughout the workshop, and especially in both the opening and closing sessions, we highlighted the work done by the SIG, describing sponsored conferences and other initiatives, and advertising the availability of geo-diversity grants to attend conferences. After the workshop, attendees were asked to fill-out a survey to gauge their satisfaction with the workshop and whether it achieved its stated goals.  In particular, whether students were able to network with other researchers from the region, learned about travel grant opportunities and support from ACM SIGCOMM, and their overall level of satisfaction with the workshop? Based on the results of the survey, it was largely successful as over 73% of the respondents rated their satisfaction a 4 or a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 the highest score. 
Geo-diversity Travel Grants.   Historically, SIG sponsored conferences have not received many requests for travel grants under the geo-diversity category. We believe this is mostly related to students lacking information about opportunities: they oftentimes believe they must have a paper accepted in the conference to be eligible for support, and they do not see themselves worthy of participation in selective conferences. We are thus actively publicizing our conferences to under-represented groups, with an initial focus on Latin America, highlighting the availability of travel grants and related initiatives supported by the SIG, e.g., grants to allow young faculty to travel to Program Committee meetings. 
As a result of these efforts, the number of travel grant requests qualifying for geo-diversity submitted to the SIGCOMM 2019 conference increased significantly.   As a result, to accommodate this surge, the SIG increased the geo-diversity travel grant budget available to the conference by over $10k.  The process of evaluating a greater number of geo-diversity application also highlighted the fact that they often exhibit significant differences with regular applications, applicants often come from regions from which travel is more expensive and conversely their ability to supplement the amount they are awarded is usually limited.  As a result, we are currently working on establishing guidelines that will acknowledge those differences and ensure that awarded geo-diversity grants take them into account.
Consistent Policies for SIG events.  Towards ensuring that all SIG events comply with properly displaying the ACM and SIG policies that attendees need to be made aware of, especially when it comes to issues related to discrimination, harassment, and privacy; something that was unevenly done before, the SIG drafted a document that summarizes those requirements and that is to be used by all future SIG events.
CARES Committee (Committee to Aid REporting on discrimination and haraSsment policy violations). Following a successful pilot at the SIGCOMM 2018 conference, the SIGCOMM CARES committee was formally introduced.  It is intended to help prevent and address any form of unacceptable behavior at events associated with the SIG. Its creation was in part in recognition of the fact that reporting discrimination and harassment to a person of authority, e.g., conference chairs, SIG officers, or ACM staff, can be intimidating, especially in the face of an already traumatic experience.  CARES committee members can serve as an alternative and are also intended as a source of advice on how to approach such a situation and ensure it is investigated by ACM. Committee members are available to listen and help anyone who has either experienced or witnessed discrimination and harassment at any event promoted by the SIG, or needs counseling on how to handle it. Committee members will seek to be present in as many SIG events as possible, starting in 2019 with a presence at SIGCOMM, CoNEXT, IMC, and HotNets.  When attending an event in their capacity as CARES members, individuals will wear a badge that clearly identifies them as such.  They can also be contacted online to facilitate and schedule initial discussions. The committee members in 2019 are Sujata Banerjee - VMWare, Marinho Barcellos (co-chair) - Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Craig Partridge - Colorado State University, Jennifer Rexford - Princeton University, Justine Sherry - Carnegie Mellon University, and Ellen Zegura (co-chair) - Georgia Tech.

Issues facing the SIG
Last year’s report identified discrimination and harassment as an important issue that the SIG needs to tackle seriously.  Towards addressing it, we introduced at the 2018 SIGCOMM conference in Bucharest a pilot CARES committee (Committee to Aid REporting on discrimination and haraSsment policy violations) modeled after the committee of the same name introduced by SIGARCH.  Following the successful completion of this pilot, as detailed in the “Diversity and Outreach” section, the SIG formally introduced its own CARES committee that will provide sustained presence and resources, initially at our main conferences (initially at the SIGCOMM, CoNEXT, HotNets and IMC conferences).  It is hoped that the creation of this committee will increase awareness about discrimination and harassment and offer easier access to resources and advice.
The continued decrease in membership (for the first time since 1990, the number of professional members is below 1,000) is becoming truly worrisome.  Although it is not (yet) affecting the financial stability of the SIG as our conferences continue to generate a healthy surplus, it is clearly a sign that being a member is not seen as offering a strong enough value.  This may be attributed to data communications having become a mature research area, and the decline is not unique to SIGCOMM, but it is nevertheless a major source of concern.  Of particular significance is the fact that the decline is also extending to student members, which means that we are also failing in attracting new members.  Our attempts to broaden the SIG’s diversity may succeed in providing a temporary reprieve (by tapping into new “markets”), but if we are truly not delivering meaningful value to members, that reprieve is likely to be short-lived.  Understanding how we can initiate activities that will help us turn this around is most definitely one of the main challenges the SIG is facing going forward.