Saturday, July 4, 2009

What Does SIGMOD Need?

Each four years, the ACM SIGMOD membership elects a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and a Secretary/Treasurer. This past week, the results of the 2009 election were announced. I ran for Vice Chair and had the great fortune to be elected.

As part of the election process, the candidates write a statement. I have included my statement below. When I take office, I will start working with my fellow SIGMOD officers on transforming the statement into concrete action. They, too, have written statements and no doubt have their own views on the matters that I address.

I hope to be able to elaborate on my statement in future blog posts. If, having read the statement, you have any comments or suggestions, please share.

Vice Chair statement:

“SIGMOD is an outstanding organization and it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to run for Vice Chair. If elected, my main objectives will be to understand and meet the needs of the community as best as I am able. I am committed to continuing to innovate SIGMOD.

The SIGMOD Conference is of central importance to the SIGMOD community. Recent years have seen increased dissatisfaction with the review process, and many attempts have been made at reengineering the review process within the constraints of a conference setting. However, if the quality of the reviewing itself is not high, such reengineering is ineffective. Many have observed that there are few rewards for good reviewing. I propose that SIGMOD initiates an effort to find ways of rewarding quality reviewing, to be introduced gradually and evaluated in a systematic manner.

I will work to integrate social networking tools into the SIGMOD web site in a way consistent with the high quality of SIGMOD, to ensure that the site reflects the breadth of our community and becomes more dynamic.

In particular, I believe that the very advances brought about by members of our community in the area of web data offer opportunities for further improving the SIGMOD web site. As one example, we should aim for a much more dynamic site that members of the community will want to visit frequently. To achieve that, additional and relevant content, including member-generated content, should be enabled. We should also aim for new ways of establishing an increased SIGMOD presence on the web.

Next, SIGMOD can and should do more to involve and provide services to its members and to the database community across the globe. For example, regional columns may be introduced in SIGMOD Record and on the SIGOMD web site.

Throughout my twenty years as a database researcher, I have had substantial collaborations across Asia, Europe, and the US; and I have spent substantial time in each. As a result, I am aware of the many different perspectives within our profession, and I will work hard to represent and honor them all. I have built a sizable research group in my department and I have served in leadership roles for top conferences as well as on some 140 PCs. That is the kind of commitment I will bring to SIGMOD.”


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

(Why) Are Database Conferences in Decline?

This week, I took a look at the submission counts and acceptance rates for key database conferences. I started out by updating the statistics that Peter Apers has been maintaining for some time with the most recent data available. Here, I report my findings.

I view SIGMOD and VLDB as the flagship database conferences, and I believe that most members of the community will agree.

From 1993 to ca. 2002, SIGMOD received numbers of submissions in the range from 200 to 300, in a zigzag-like pattern. Then the number of submissions grew to the 400-to-500 range, peaking at 480 in 2007. The last couple of years have seen numbers that are similar to the 2004 and 2005 level of 431.

Now consider VLDB. The trend for the period 1993 to 2001 is that of a slight increase from around 300 to around 350, with 1999 being an outlier (390). Then follows a few years of marked increases in submissions. The last three years have each seen some 550 submissions. At 626 submissions, 2006 is an outlier.

The VLDB acceptance rates have been in the range from 13 to 19 percent since 1993, with only two years being outside the 14 to 18 percent range. There are no clear patterns. Similarly, the SIGMOD acceptance rates have generally been in the range from 14 to 18 percent during the past decade, with no clear trends toward increase or decrease.

So VLDB and SIGMOD are similarly selective. SIGMOD is seeing a slight decline in submissions, while VLDB is seeing a slight increase. VLDB is attracting the larger number of submissions.

Here, recent submission counts for several conferences are graphed:

I generally have no explanations for the various fluctuations in the submissions. Or for why SIGMOD seems to be decreasing slightly while VLDB seems to be increasing slightly.The relatively low figure for SIGMOD 2002 may be due to an overlap between the EDBT reviewing period and the SIGMOD submission date that year. And the locations of the conferences may be a factor. If anyone has good explanations for the figures, I would love to hear about it.

Next, I view ICDE and EDBT as the second-most prestigious database conferences.

For ICDE, the numbers of submissions generally were in the 250 to 300 range from 1993 to 2002. Then followed a gradual increase to 521 in 2005. The last three years have seen from about 550 to 650 submissions. It is noted that ICDE had few relatively submissions in 2006, the year where VLDB had relatively many (-is this a coincidence?).

The ICDE acceptance rate is characterized by a declining trend: From the 20-25 percent range early on to a situation where four of the last six acceptance rates have been in the range from 12 to 14 percent, with the two other being 19 percent.

EDBT also exhibits a slight growth from 1994 to 2002, ending slightly above 200. Then follows a strong growth that takes EDBT to 352 in 2006. And there was a slight decline in 2008. The acceptance rate has been at 17 percent for all years, with the exception of two (16 and 14 percent).

So we are seeing a pattern of slight growth until ca. 2002, then a significant growth followed by a decline or a slowing growth the last couple of years. I wonder why?

Here are the acceptance rates that correspond to the submission counts given above:

Finally, I want to mention CIKM. This conference has grown steadily over the years; and in 2009, CIKM received 847 submissions, which is the highest for a database research conference ever (yes, CIKM spans broader than databases). CIKM's acceptance rate has been as high as 40 percent, but it seems to have stabilized in the range from 15 to 18 percent.

It would be interesting to compare with non-database conferences as well.

Let me end by observing that there is of course more to a conference than the number of submissions and the acceptance rate. For example, the expectations associated with a conference wrt. the topics it accepts and its "toughness," affect the quality of the conference and the submission behavior, e.g., leading to self-refereeing, where researchers choose to send only their best papers to the "toughest" conferences.

PS. I chose to manage the conference statistics using Fusion Tables.