SIGMOD Annual Report

July 2002 - June 2003

Submitted by: Tamer Ozsu, SIGMOD Chair

1 Mission

The ACM SIGMOD (Special Interest Group on Management of Data) is concerned with the principles, techniques and applications of database management systems and data management technology.

In February 1998 the SIGMOD executive committee meeting attempted to identify the SIGMOD community and came up with the following characterization that continues to guide our activities.

The overarching goal of SIGMOD is to enable the production and dissemination of science and technology [related to database systems and data management].

  • SIGMOD should be careful not to stretch itself too thinly. The current community that SIGMOD serves is the database research-oriented community: those producing the research results (academicians and research lab members), those utilizing the research results (DBMS, middleware, and tool vendors), and those interested in where the field is going (forward-looking users and consultants). At the present time, conventional database application developers and users of such applications are not SIGMODs primary focus.
  • The area of relevance of SIGMOD is data management technology. SIGMOD should focus on concepts and systems that manage data.
  • As SIGMODs membership fee is so low ($20 per year), SIGMOD should focus first on providing member benefits, and secondarily on providing benefits to non-members.

2 New Initiatives

SIGMOD is a thriving, very active SIG which is among the top five largest SIGs. A number of initiatives have been put into place in recent years.

SIGMOD Online The online component (www.acm.org/sigmod) continues to grow and now includes:

  • digitized papers of the SIGMOD and PODS conference proceedings (now released simultaneously in print and electronically),
  • SIGMOD Record, also released simultaneously in print and electronically; available in html/PDF and XML versions),
  • full video of the four one-hour plenary talks at the SIGMOD conference,
  • SIGMOD Digital Review, an on-line collection of reviews of extant literature contributed by the community,
  • DBLP, a bibliography of over 200,000 database and logic programming papers,
  • dbworld, a very popular mailing list with web-based posting and archives,
  • web-based repositories of information on graduating database students, database events, database research groups, database publications servers, and free/public domain software.
  • links to commercial journal publications that are available to SIGMOD members at special rates.

SIGMOD Anthology This is a collection of approximately 110,000 digitized pages of the database research literature, including back issues of three journals (IEEE TKDE, ACM TODS and VLDBJ), 27 conferences (ADBIS, CIKM, CoopIS, DASFAA, DBPL, DL, DOLAP, EDBT, ER, GIS, Hypertext, ICDE, ICDT, KRDB, MFDBS, MobiDE, NPIV, PDIS, PODS, SIGBDP, SIGIR, SIGMOD, SIS&R, SSDBM, VLDB, WIDM and WorkshopOODS), five newsletters (SIGBDP DATA BASE, SIGFIDET Newsletter, SIGKDD Explorations, SIGMOD Record and IEEE Data Engineering), several books, and meta-data (DBLP). This collection now is about 20 CDs. The Fifth Volume of the Anthology, consisting of two CDs will be sent to members this September.

Anthology Silver Edition Last year we produced a set of two DVDs that incorporate all volumes of the Anthology as well as the first two volumes of DiSC (see below). This collection is called the Silver Edition and is now available to members at a price of $20. The decision has been made to move to DVD technology for the upcoming volumes of the Anthology.

SIGMOD Digital Symposium Collection (DiSC) This is an annual CDROM publication containing the proceedings for that year for a dozen conferences, several newsletters, as well as ancillary material from those conferences, such as Powerpoint slides, demoed software, and video of plenary sessions. Volume 3 of DiSC is now being produced and will be sent to the members this September.

New SIGMOD Record columns SIGMOD Record continues to be a high quality newsletter and its coverage has been growing. In recent years, several columns were added (influential papers, database principles, systems and prototypes, and standards). We have recently introduced the following columns that have been very well received by our members:

  • Interviews with important database researchers and practitioners (in its third year),
  • Book reviews (in its second year).

SIGMOD/PODS Conferences These continue to be very successful and highly regarded events. As discussed in Section 3, we will be taking the conferences to Europe for the first time in 2004. We have also created a Conference Coordinator position to provide continuity in the organization of the conference from year-to-year. Dr. Jianwen Su, (University of California, Santa Barbara), who was the General Chair of the 2001 SIGMOD Conference is the first one to take on this position. He is now putting together a Conference Organization Guideline document and has been brought into the loop for 2004 conference whose preparations had already started. He is taking over the responsibility of being the main institutional contact for 2005 and has started to work with the General Chair of SIGMOD 2005.

3 International Efforts

SIGMOD (and indeed, ACM) is generally considered to be primarily a US-based organization. SIGMOD has been attempting to be more international by establishing close relationships with societies in Europe (EDBT, ICDT, Moscow ACM SIGMOD Chapter) and the far east (China CCF DBS, SIGMOD Japan Chapter). There are ongoing efforts to establish similar linkages with Latin American countries (a Latin American Liaison Committee has been formed). There is an ongoing library donation program that is international in scope. We had been allocating, for a number of years, $5,000 per year to facilitate the attendance to the SIGMOD Conference by influential researchers from eastern Europe. We have stopped that program this past year to re-position the program so that it can be open to researchers from a wider set of countries. However, our most visible activity, the annual conference has been out of US only twice: Toronto in 1977 and Montreal in 1996). We have decided to periodically (approximately, once every three to four years) hold the conference outside of North America. The first of these will be held in Paris, France in 2004 with a Patrick Valduriez (INRIA and University of Nantes, France) as the General Chair and Gerhard Weikum (University of Saarlands, Germany) as the Program Committee Chair.

4 Educational, Conference, and Membership Activities

The primary educational materials are the SIGMOD Anthology, bringing an entire library of database literature to students at a very low price (students can join SIGMOD for only $12 per year) and the SIGMOD DiSC, which brings to them the proceedings of a dozen conferences, as well as much ancillary material from those conferences. This year we have entered an agreement with VLDB Endowment to establish the SIGMOD/VLDB Digital Library Donation Program whereby VLDB Endowment will purchase up to $25,000 worth of SIGMOD Anthology Silver Edition to be distributed to developing countries. A joint committee is in the process of being formed to run this program. This should allow us to assist 1,000 institutions. The SIGMOD conference continues to be very well attended. Our paid attendance this year was 518, almost identical to last year's number of 525. It is highly prestigious. In a list of the most referenced papers 2 , papers from the SIGMOD conference appeared more often than any other conference, and more often than any journal except the ACM Transactions on Database Systems. SIGMOD Conference papers continue to be among the most popular downloads from ACM Digital Library. This year, there was a significant increase in submissions, which necessitated accepting 11 more papers than last year in order to maintain our target acceptance rate of around 15%.

The SIGMOD conference continues to be co-located with the Principles of Database Systems (PODS) conference, bringing together theoreticians and experimentalists. This year, the two conferences joined the Federated Computer Research Conference in San Diego.

SIGMOD, like most other SIGs, has experienced a slow decline in membership in the first part of the 1990s. We've worked hard to reverse this trend. Our membership numbers seem to be holding steady, although there are occasional movements in the numbers.

5 Collaborative Efforts

We've already mentioned our sister societies. Most have given permission for significant amounts of technical material to appear in the SIGMOD Digital Library. We've also cooperated closely with SIGIR in the DL, and, as mentioned, with SIGKDD in membership promotions.

As indicated above, we will be collaborating with the VLDB Endowment to jointly sponsor the distribution of SIGMOD Silver Edition to international institutions and researchers.

6 Leadership Development

The initiatives listed in Section 2 all require volunteers to accomplish, and leaders to organize. The number of people leading efforts, and the number of people in standing committees and editorial boards, have been increasing. Currently, over 250 volunteers are actively helping with SIGMOD activities and deliverables.

One of the major efforts over the last two years has been to institutionalize many of the operations of SIGMOD. We have created a number of new positions and found volunteers to fill them. The objective is to achieve a state where the Chair is not involved in the minute details of every operation of the organization.

7 Self Assessment

SIGMOD has worked hard to reverse the trend of decreasing membership by means of superior membership benefits. The introduction of the Anthology and DiSC CDs as well as the online material provide our members access to most of the database literature. The production, last year, of the Silver Edition DVD set is a continuation of these efforts in improving member benefits. The rising membership is a concrete indication that the community values what SIGMOD offers.

SIGMOD also has been aggressive in putting its materials on the Web; at this time all of SIGMOD's materials: almost 30 years of conference proceedings and newsletter issues, and video from the last few plenary sessions, are on the Web.

A third source of pride is the involvement of all of the major database societies in the SIGMOD Digital Library. This involvement was critical, for two reasons. One, we could include material only if we had permission. And two, SIGMOD could not afford to digitize all that material alone; we relied on the copyright owners to pay for the digitization. We now look forward to these organizations to put this material, which now exists in digital form, on the web, either on their web site, or, if they prefer, on ours.

8 Concerns for the Future

There are a few issues that we need to pay attention to. SIGMOD's fund balance was spent in recent years in improving the membership benefits. Today, the balance is about $50,000 above the required level. While this is the level of surplus that we targeted, it still requires us to be careful with our finances. At last year's Executive Committee meeting, we had instituted a policy whereby every activity that we undertake (conference, membership, Digital Library, etc) has to be self-financing and, where possible, cost-neutral. This impacts many of our activities and we are implementing these changes as we move forward.

Another issue that requires our attention is membership. Our membership fees has not been adjusted in a decade while the cost of membership has increased with the inclusion of the SIGMOD Digital Library, and other activities. Obviously, we cannot continue the current trend. We undertook a study of membership costs and benefits that revealed that our fees are lower than our direct membership benefit costs. We will, therefore, be adjusting our membership fees next year.

Related to membership, we need to continue to pay attention to signing new members and improving our retention (particularly at the end of the first year of membership). A continued frustration over the last few years has been ACM's antiquated membership database. Complaints about delays in inserting member information into the database have been documented in previous Review Reports. It is also important to be able to easily and quickly obtain each month the list of members whose memberships expire. This would enable us to contact them without delay and to encourage them to renew their membership. The following statement from our last Review Report is, unfortunately, still valid: ACM may represent the future of information technology, but its databases are decades out of date, of particular embarrassment to SIGMOD.

While these concerns are real, we feel that SIGMOD is a strong organization, and we have every expectation of it continuing to provide useful benefits to its members, and thereby to thrive and indeed continue to grow.

1 The last part in brackets is now being taken to the Executive for adoption.

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