SIGMOD FY'04 Annual Report

July 2003 - June 2004
Submitted by: M. Tamer Ozsu, SIGMOD Chair

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 operations are conducted under the following long-standing guidelines:

  • 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 SIGMOD's primary focus.

  • The area of relevance of SIGMOD is "data management technology." SIGMOD should focus on concepts and systems that manage data.

  • As SIGMOD's membership fee is so low ($25 per year), SIGMOD should focus first on providing member benefits, and secondarily on providing benefits to non-members.

SIGMOD Member Benefits

SIGMOD has a very rich set of member benefits. These include the following: SIGMOD Online -The online component 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,

  • 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 over 130,000 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 andWorkshopOODS), 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 over 20 CDs. The Fifth Volume of the Anthology, consisting of two CDs was produced in 2002; work is ongoing on Volume 6 that we hope to release within a year.

Anthology Silver Edition

In 2002 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. In 2003 we moved to DVD technology for DiSC, since the content has grown significantly. We have been working on putting DiSC release on a more reliable schedule with production as soon after the end of the year as possible. Our target is to ship the DiSC to members with the March issue of SIGMOD Record in the following year (i.e., within 3 months of the end of the year.)

SIGMOD Record

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;

  • Book reviews (in its second year).

SIGMOD/PODS Conferences

These continue to be very successful and highly regarded events. As discussed in Section 4, we have taken the conferences out of North America 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 has put together a Conference Organization Guideline document that has proven to be very helpful for the conference organizers. He has taken over the responsibility of being the main institutional contact for conference organizers starting with the SIGMOD/PODS 2005.

CD Proceedings

Starting this year, we have started producing CD versions of the annual SIGMOD/PODS Proceedings, which are sent to members free of charge (with the June issue of SIGMOD Record).

New Initiatives

The following are some of the new initiatives:

  1. The main new initiatives is with our annual conference. As indicated above and as discussed further in Section 4, for the first time, we organized SIGMOD/PODS out of North America.

  2. We have renamed the SIGMOD Innovations Award as "SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award" in recognition of the preeminent pioneer of database technology, Dr. E.F. Codd, who passed away in 2003. The first renamed award was presented at this year's conference in Paris to Dr. Ronald Fagin of IBM Almaden Laboratories. Mrs. Sharon Codd was present at the ceremonies and presented the award to Dr. Fagin.

  3. As indicated above, this year we have started producing electronic proceedings (on one CD) of the SIGMOD/PODS Conferences and shipping them to members. This was in response to member complaints about the stoppage, in 2001, of hard copy proceedings shipment to members. These CD proceedings are exact replicas of the printed proceedings, and do not include ancillary material such as keynote videos, demos, etc; these will continue to go into the annual DiSC.

  4. Starting with the 2005 Conference, we will be taping the tutorials and the panel sessions in addition to keynotes. These videos will be included in the annual DiSC.

  5. This year we changed our workflow and the tool that we use for the production of DiSC. The current Web-based system has considerably streamlined the work and has enabled us to produce DiSC in a more timely manner. The cost of this system is significantly higher than what we have budgeted for this activity; the additional cost was covered by a grant from Microsoft. We expect this support to continue in future years.

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 undertaking a number of initiatives. We have established 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. This year we have taken our annual conference out of North America for the first time (since its inception in 1975, the conference has been out of US only twice:
Toronto in 1997 and Montreal in 1996). The 2004 SIGMOD/PODS Conference was held in Paris, France 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. The Conference was very successful, with attendance of about 525 participants (about the same as last year) including about 110 from France. For many of these colleagues, this was the first SIGMOD/PODS Conference that they attended. We intend to follow-up with these colleagues and encourage them to become SIGMOD members, if they are not already.

We will be continuing to take SIGMOD/PODS out of North America every three to four years. We intend to go to Asia in 2007 or 2008 and we are expecting to get at least three proposals (Singapore, Japan, China) for this organization.

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 $13 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. We have recently 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 has been formed to run this program. This should allow us to assist 1,000 institutions.

We have an ongoing Undergraduate Scholarship Program that subsidizes four or five undergraduate students from various institutions around the world to attend the annual conference. This year we awarded five scholarships to students from three countries.

The SIGMOD conference continues to be very well attended. As indicated above, the paid attendance this year was 525, and we seem to be experiencing fairly stable attendance around this number. It is highly prestigious. In a list of the most referenced papers1, 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.

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 are collaborating with the VLDB Endowment to jointly sponsor the distribution of SIGMOD Silver Edition to international institutions and researchers.

Leadership Development

The activities 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 300 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 was to achieve a state where the Chair is not involved in the minute details of every operation of the organization. We have now achieved this goal.

Self Assessment

SIGMOD is a thriving, very active SIG which is among the top five largest SIGs. SIGMOD has worked hard to reverse the trend of decreasing membership by means of superior membership benefits. The introduction of the Anthology and DiSC as well as the online material provide our members access to most of the database literature. The production of the Silver Edition DVD set is a continuation of these e_orts 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.

Over the past year we conducted an in-depth analysis of the cost of membership benefits, which revealed that the direct cost of membership was about $24. Consequently, we have adjusted our membership fees (for the first time in over ten years) to $25. The effects of this increase will become evident in our budget starting with FY06.

Concerns for the Future

The fundamental concern is with respect to SIGMOD's fund balance. Over the last three years, we have spent significant effort to streamline our activities and re-organize them with the objective of maintaining a fund balance of about $50,000 above the required level. We achieved that level last year. Unfortunately, the recent changes in ACM rules regarding SIG fund balances has pushed us slightly below the fund balance. Given the cost of our current membership benefits and the fact that we raised the membership fee only this year, there is no clear set of steps that can be taken to get our fund balance above the required minimum. This will require more attention.

Another issue that requires our attention is membership. With the recent adjustment of our membership fee, we are now in a position to start a membership drive to increase new members. Our membership retention rates after first year are one of the highest among the active SIGs, but our first year renewal requires some improvement. This will be an issue that will be addressed this year. 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.

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