One of the fundamental questions of philosophy, physics, and yes, even
databases, is, what is the structure of time? Must it go in only one
direction? Is it linear, branching, cyclic, even multi-dimensional?
I'll invoke most of these aspects in this description of where SIGMOD
has been and where it is going.
Imagine you are planning your wedding, perhaps a small affair, of say
50 people. Perhaps it will be an afternoon wedding, followed by a
dinner and dancing. Still, there are lots of things to decide: the
meal, entertainment, renting the hall, centerpieces, etc., etc.
Your dream darkens. The wedding grows and grows, to 500 of your
closest friends. The afternoon and evening grow to a 5-day event. The
cost grows to a quarter million dollars. You wake up sweating, with
your heart pounding. Fortunately, it was just a nightmare.
Now you know what has been keeping Maggie Dunham busy this past 15
months, as she planned the SIGMOD'00 conference. Those of you who went
know that Maggie did a fantastic job. Thanks Maggie, for your energy,
your handling of a million details, and your desire that the week of
the conference would be enjoyable and productive for everyone.
The registration fee in Seattle two years ago was $525. At that
meeting, Moshe Vardi asked that the registration fee be
lowered. Maggie was able to get the registration down to $400, which
is the same as it was some 6 years ago, before high resolution
projectors were needed in each room, before there was an email
terminal room, and before the keynote addresses were
video-taped. Getting the registration fee down while continuing to
provide the facilities that are now expected was indeed an impressive
We are hoping that our example keeps the lid on conference
registration fees for other database conferences. So my challenge to
the other conferences is, do as we did, and drop your registration
fees $100. Let's have a race among database conferences to the lowest
Almost 20 years ago, another nightmare: one of my papers was rejected
by a conference, in fact, by SIGMOD. I was devastated.
I'm reminded of talking to a colleague who was on the graduate
admissions committee during the Vietnam war. He found these decisions
agonizing, because denying an applicant was in some cases tantamount
to sending that person off to die.
Well, a SIGMOD rejection isn't that serious, but it definitely has
quite negative repercussions. A few SIGMOD papers can do wonderful
things for one's career; the converse also holds.
And rejections are common. For every paper that Jeff Naughton
accepted, he had to reject 5 others. Being PC chair means almost
always having to say NO. (Jeff reiterates this observation in
So it was critical that the strongest papers be accepted. And Jeff did
a superb job of choosing the right people for the program committee
and of managing the process and the PC meeting, so that the very best
papers were accepted.
But Jeff's job was even harder. When I asked him to be PC chair, I
told him he was responsible for the entire technical program: the
panels, the tutorials, the demos, everything. And as those who were
there can attest that the program was very strong indeed this year.
Next year, SIGMOD will be in Santa Barbara. Jianwen Su will be General
Chair, and Timos Sellis, Program Chair. Do plan on joining us in sunny
California, May 21-24.
So how is SIGMOD doing? On the next few pages are reports from Meral
Özsoyoglu, the Vice Chair, Joachim Hammer, the new Treasurer, and
others on how various projects are going.
But first, I wanted to highlight just a few activities of this
organization. Our focus has been on building a worldwide database
community, with four specific goals.
First, we want to emphasize the central place of databases within
CS. To some, databases is administrative data processing, which is
boring, boring. To others, databases is the Y2K problem, boring,
boring. To me, databases represent absolutely core technology that
has succeeded so well that everyone takes it for granted.
The SIGMOD awards celebrate the achievements of those in our
community. This year's SIGMOD Innovations Award went to Rakesh
Agrawal, the SIGMOD Contributions Award, to Michael Carey and Laura
Haas, the SIGMOD ``Test of Time'' Award to two papers that appeared in
the SIGMOD'90 conference a decade ago: ``Encapsulation of Parallelism
in the Volcano Query Processing System,'' by Goetz Graefe, and
``Set-Oriented Production Rules in Relational Database Systems,'' by
Jennifer Widom and Shel Finkelstein, and the SIGMOD Best Paper Award,
to Hartmut Liefke and Dan Suciu, for ``XMill: an Efficient Compressor
for XML Data.'' My congratulations to all these deserving awardees.
And there are ACM-wide awards. As you all know, we celebrated last
year Jim Gray winning the ACM Turing Award. This May, some 30 ACM
Fellows were induced. Over a fourth were from our community, which
made me very proud: Peter Buneman, Mike Carey, Ron Fagin, Don Haderle,
Hank Korth, Raymond Lorie, Moshe Vardi and David Warren.
Another goal that I have pushed throughout my tenure as chair is
archiving and distributing technical material, which has always been a
central role of SIGMOD, a role that has expanded in this age of
I thank Isabel Cruz for the amazing job she did on the DiSC'2000,
which was released just a few months ago. Isabel is already hard at
work on DiSC'2001, which will be even more impressive, in that it will
include the proceedings of at least a dozen conferences held this
Michael Ley is also working very hard on the next volumes of the
Anthology, which will be sent (free, of course) to all SIGMOD members
in the fall, some 8 additional CDROMs. We've added some 20,000 pages
to what was announced at the last business meeting:
- CIKM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (Niki Pissinou)
- DBPL Databases and Programming Languages (Alberto Mendelzon and
- PDIS Parallel and Distributed Information Systems (Sushil Jajodia)
- MFDBS Mathematical Fundamentals of Database Systems (Jan Paredaens)
- MobiDE (Panos Chrysanthis)
- SIGIR Conference (Susan Dumais)
- TKDE (Betty Salzberg and Ahmed Elmagarmid)
- Foundations of Databases, a book by Serge Abiteboul, Rick Hull, and Victor
Thanks to all these people for their help in convincing publishers
that the community values including their publications in the
Anthology. Along with first volume, the 13 CDROMs will total over
100,000 pages of material.
Even better, next spring everyone will receive the Silver
Edition of the Anthology, on DVD. This will comprise everything
through 1999, about 70% of all the refereed material on databases that
has appeared over the last 25 years. This includes about 250 volumes
of material, a large bookcase totally full of journals, proceedings,
and books, all on one or two DVD disks. Isn't storage technology
Much of this material turns out to be hard to find. We wanted to grab
this stuff before it literally disappears. Even ACM and the IEEE keep
only a few years worth of important material. So, one side benefit is
that the Anthology will serve as an important historical record of our
field--a record that we will now have for all time.
The third way we are building a worldwide database community is by
encouraging other, related disciplines to also make their material
available. Databases is a broad field: we use results from theory,
operating systems, networking, hardware, and information
retrieval. Hence, it is important that these related fields also
capture their literature for easy access.
We have been encouraging other SIGs to follow SIGMOD's lead, with some
success: ACM and all the SIG chairs have recently agreed to pay to
digitize everything ACM has published in its 60 years of
existence, back to 1940. By summer, 2001, the ACM Digital Library will
include all journals, all conference proceedings, and all newsletters.
This will cost in excess of $500,000. It will cost SIGMOD very little,
because most of our material has already been digitized, with the rest
being completed within the next few months.
SIGMOD is also encouraging other publishers to ``do the right thing'',
in making their material as available as possible. We are working to
get all of the Anthology onto the web, in many cases freely
Finally, the fourth way we are building a worldwide database community
is to partner with other societies. The March 2000 issue of SIGMOD
Record listed the many societies we cooperate with. Our regional
partners include societies in Russia, Japan, and China. We are now
working with those in Latin America to strengthen our ties
there. Claudio Bauzer Medeiros chairs the Latin American Liaison
Committee. We are also reaching out to the industrial
community. Daniel Barbara has formed an Industrial Advisory Board to
help there. See the first page of this issue for the members of these
I'm very appreciative of all the fine work that these people, and indeed,
some 100 SIGMOD volunteers all over the world, are doing.
| Rick Snodgrass|
| July, 2000|