In this message I look to SIGMOD's past, and then to its future. Both are
For those of you who weren't with us in Philadelphia a few weeks ago,
you missed a great conference. Susan Davidson did just an incredible
job handling the many, many, many details. I first
contacted Sue a full two years ago, in August, 1997, and she has been
working on the conference ever since. And I'm most pleased with those
aspects, such as the banquet held literally amidst some Egyptian
mummies, in which Sue made it uniquely hers.
I checked back through the records, and found that during the 1990's
the conference registration fee went up an average of $30 a year. This
year Sue reversed the trend, actually lowering the
registration fee by $70. This wasn't easy to do, while maintaining all
the facilities we've come to expect in this conference.
I also want to thank Christos Faloutsos for so capably handling the
technical program. While I've never been a general chair, I have been
a SIGMOD program chair, and I know how much work that involves. Yet
Christos maintained his enthusiasm and energy throughout the long
ordeal. Christos did a fantastic job putting together a solid
I just got the statistics on the ACM Digital Library for the year
ending May, 1999. Papers in the SIGMOD proceedings were more popular
than those of all of the ACM Transactions. I've often heard it said
that it is harder to get into the SIGMOD conference than into many
journals. This statistic emphasizes the relevance of the papers
presented at our conference. And by being a member of SIGMOD, you get
free access to those proceedings, on CDROM and on the web.
Definitely the most emotional time of the conference was the reception
for Jim Gray, this year's Turing Award winner. At this reception we
celebrated Jim's contributions and the uplifting role model he
presents to the database community at large. Pat Selinger (IBM), Bob
Taylor (Tandem/Compaq), Christos Papadimitriou (Berkeley), and Dave
Lomet (Microsoft), with David DeWitt officiating, shared their
recollections of Jim's activities at their respective institutions,
and captured so movingly the respect and affection we all hold for
This was the second year for the book drive. The first one resulted in
some 250 books being shipped to Jakarta and distributed to five
technical universities. This year Sue picked Romania, a country which
needs good technical books, and one which can fully utilize such
books. Val Tannen, from the University of Pennsylvania, organized the
book drive. He arranged for Irena Athansiv at the University
Politehnica in Bucharest to distribute the books there. This year, for
the first time, several publishers exhibiting at the conference also
got involved. I thank Michael Hirsch from Addison-Wesley, Kasia
Kolinke from Morgan Kaufmann, and John Wannemacher from McGraw-Hill
for donating books on exhibit. Finally, I thank Goetz Graefe and the
Microsoft SQLServer Group for once again paying for the shipping of
Incidentally, this year was the 25th SIGMOD conference. I
checked with some old hands, to find out the origins of SIGMOD and its
conference. We roll the clock back to January, 1969, when SIGFIDET was
started by Diane and John Smith, James Rothnie, and others. FIDET was
a S.I.C. (Special Interest Committee) on File Description and
Translation. In September 1970 it became a SIG. The original mission
was ``Taxonomics of data and Storage structures; Data Independence;
Data Description Languages; description for large databases and
networks; and Description for efficiency of storage use.'' In 1974 the
SIG decided to rename itself SIGMOD and the Chair of SIGFIDET, Bernard
Plagman, became the Chair of SIGMOD. Over the past twenty-five years
the role of data management in industry and indeed in society has
grown dramatically, with SIGMOD being an important contributor to that
The SIGMOD conference is the successor of the ACM SIGFIDET/SIGMOD
Workshop on Data Description, Access and Control, which started in
1970. The first SIGMOD conference was held in 1975 in San Jose, with
Frank King as PC Chair.
By now you should have received the first seven CDROMs of the SIGMOD
Digital Library. Michael Ley, Anthology Editor, and Isabel Cruz, DiSC
Editor, and their associate editors and students, went way beyond the
call of duty in preparing these CDROMs. I ran into Isabel at a PC
meeting two months ago, and she looked really tired. She mentioned
that she had had only four hours of sleep. What I later learned was
that was over the preceding three days (!). She and her students
pulled many all-nighters refining the two CDROMs in this year's
DiSC. And I know that Michael and his students and staff also
worked extremely hard producing the Anthology.
Let me share with you the plans for the next volume of the Digital
Library. Very briefly, the goal is to collect all the
database literature, as bibliographic entries, as full text for
search, as bit-mapped images as they appear on paper, along with all
ancillary material, on CDROM and on the web (whew!).
This objective is admittedly audacious. Do I really mean
all the database literature, the thousands of database
articles that have been written? Yes, I do. Is this even possible?
Frankly, I don't know, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to
realize this compelling resource.
Achieving this comprehensive collection of materials requires that
database societies work together. SIGMOD simply cannot do it alone. It
also requires that publishers become partners. Thirdly, research
innovations and newly available technology must be harnessed. Finally,
talented people are needed to make it happen.
Fortunately, this effort, which changes the fundamental assumptions
under which publishers and societies operate, is proceeding at
amazingly rapid pace.
Envision a book case in your office. Now, my guess is that all your
book cases are filled to overflowing. This particular book case
represents the contents of the SIGMOD Digital Library, which will
contain the following.
- All 25 volumes of the SIGMOD (International Conference on
Management of Data) Proceedings, with the digitization funded by
- All 18 volumes of the PODS (Principles of Database Systems)
Proceedings. We thank Victor Vianu, PODS Executive Committee Chair,
and Alberto Mendelzon, past EC Chair, for their help. The digitization
was funded by SIGMOD.
- All 15 volumes of the VLDB (Very Large Data Base)
Proceedings. The VLDB Foundation was an early and enthusiastic
supporter, and showed that this project was bigger than just
SIGMOD. We thank John Mylopoulos, President of the VLDB Endowment, and
Stefano Ceri, Publications Chair and VLDB Liaison for SIGMOD, for
their help. The digitization was funded by the VLDB Foundation.
- Seven volumes of the IEEE Bulletin on Data
Engineering, 1993-1999. We thank David Lomet, Editor in Chief
of this publication, for his help. Dave was also an early and ardent
supporter. His involvement helped bring the IEEE along. As one can
imagine, publishers are extremely reticent to release their
publications, especially to another publisher. These volumes were
already in digital form.
- All 15 volumes of the IEEE ICDE (International Conference on Data
Engineering) Proceedings. We thank Erich Neuhold, ICDE Steering
Committee Chair, Betty Salzberg, TCDE President, and Matt Loeb,
Publisher for the IEEE Computer Society, for their support. The
digitization will be funded by the IEEE.
- All four PDIS (Parallel and Distributed Information Systems)
Proceedings, 1991-1996. We thank Sushil Jajodia, Chair of the PDIS
Steering Committee, for his help. The digitization was jointly funded
by IEEE and SIGMOD.
- All 11 volumes of the SSDBM (Statistical and Scientific Database
Management) Proceedings. We thank Arie Shoshani, SSDBM Steering
Committee Chair, and Meral ÷zsoyoglu, SSDBM'99 PC Chair. Arie Shoshani
funded the digitization out of his research funds.
- Five volumes of the EDBT (Extending Data Base Technology)
Proceedings, 1988-1996. We thank Paolo Atzeni, President of the EDBT
Foundation, Stefano Ceri, EDBT Liaison for SIGMOD, and Alfred Hofmann,
Computer Science Editor for Springer-Verlag. The digitization was
funded by the EDBT Foundation.
- Six volumes of the ICDT (International Conference on Database
Theory) Proceedings, 1986-1997. We thank Jan Paredaens, Chair of the
ICDT Steering Committee. The copyright for the ICDT proceedings is
held by Springer-Verlag, another publisher who was initially hesitant
to participate. Jan's advocacy was very helpful in getting Springer on
For these volumes to be included, four bodies were involved: the
SIGMOD Executive Committee, the ICDT Steering Committee,
Springer-Verlag, and the EDBT Foundation, which funded the
digitization. All four had to agree for this to happen, a wonderful
example of inter-society cooperation.
- Four volumes of the ADBIS (Advances in Databases and Information
Systems) Proceedings, 1994-1997. We thank Leonid Kalinichenko, Chair
of the ADBIS Steering Committee. These proceedings were already in
- Ten volumes of the ER (Entity-Relationship) Proceedings
(1979-1991). We thank Peter P. Chen, Emeritus Chair, ER Steering
Committee, for his help. The ER Institute funded the digitization.
- Recently we asked ourselves, why restrict the
Anthology to just conferences? So we decided to include
22 volumes of ACM TODS, 1976-1997. We thank Won Kim,
TODS Editor-in-Chief. Digitization was funded by SIGMOD.
- Four volumes of the VLDB Journal, 1992-1995. We
thank John Mylopoulos and Peter Apers, VLDBJ
Editor-in-Chief. The VLDB Foundation funded the digitization.
- Why restrict it to periodicals? So we include two database
classics, both unfortunately out of print: Theory of Relational
Databases, by David Maier, digitization funded by SIGMOD, and
Concurrency Control and Recovery in Database Systems, by
Philip Bernstein, Vassos Hadzilacos, and Nathan Goodman, digitization
funded by Microsoft. A few weeks ago, Victor Vianu arranged for a
third book to be included, Foundations of Databases, by Serge
Abiteboul, Richard Hull, and Victor, digital version provided by
So here is our book case, jam-packed with the very best database
papers and books. The SIGMOD Digital Library will comprise some
70,000 pages of bit-mapped images, fully indexed, equivalent to 345
lbs (160kg) of material, occupying 4 standard shelves, or 10ft (3m),
of our book case.
Of course, every SIGMOD member will get the Digital Library free
(volume 2 of the Anthology is scheduled for next
spring). You can then clear out your book cases of musty proceedings,
knowing that you have it all in a little binder, available for
searching and printing anytime.
I estimate that this represents a third to a half of the entire
database research literature. So our challenge is clear: to fill out
the other book case or two, and to ensure that new material is
captured and made available electronically.
Volume 2 of the DiSC is scheduled for February, 2000. It will have
proceedings from at least six annual conferences (ACM SIGMOD, ACM
PODS, ACM KDD, VLDB, IEEE ICDE, and SSDBM), as well as several
publications such as SIGMOD Record and IEEE Data
Engineering Bulletin, workshops, and other useful material,
such as full audio and video of Jim Gray's Turing address. If you are
associated with any conferences or workshops, in 1999 or next year,
and would like to be included in the DiSC publication, by all means
get in touch with Isabel Cruz.
SIGMOD will be donating 100 copies of the Digital Library to
developing countries. If you know the address of any libraries in such
countries, please send that information to Nick Kline (email@example.com), so that he can ensure that we
get the CDROMs to them.
I am pleased to announce that SIGMOD will be producing two new
publications, in addition to the SIGMOD Record,
SIGMOD DiSC, and SIGMOD Anthology. Again,
these publications will be free to all members. The first arose out
of a workshop last October sponsored by NSF on academic-industry
interaction. That workshop is on the DiSC (volume 1). It turned out
that a portion of the SIGMOD Executive Committee was at that
workshop. We started brain-storming about what SIGMOD could do to help
in this area. The result is the ACM SIGMOD Technical
Talks, or SIGMOD TechTalks for short, with Tekin
÷zsoyoglu as Editor and Christian S. Jensen as co-Editor. This
multimedia CDROM publication will debut next year.
The second new publication is the ACM SIGMOD Digital
Review, with H. V. Jagadish as Editor. This novel
internet-based mechanism for directing attention to quality work
through peer review will debut in the fall.
Much of what SIGMOD does is the result of individual initiative. If
you have a good idea, by all means bring it to SIGMOD, which can
provide resources for your idea to grow and benefit the database
community. The SIGMOD Digital Review is but one example
of how this can work. Just contact me or anyone on the Executive
Please scan the first page of this issue for changes and
additions. Here I focus on the SIGMOD Executive Committee. Eric Hanson
resigned as SIGMOD Secretary/Treasurer on August 31, 1999. He is
taking a sabbatical from the University of Florida during the
1999-2000 academic year. During that period, he will dedicate his
time to a software startup. After discussion by the SIGMOD Executive
Committee, I recommended Joachim Hammer as his replacement, to Carla
Ellis, Chair of the SIG Governing Board Executive Committee, who
approved this change. Joachim will serve as Secretary/Treasurer
through June 30, 2001.
Eric was a highly effective member of the EC. He generated many
ideas, particularly with regard to recruiting student members, and
helped with budgeting, both SIGMOD-wide and specifically with the
conferences. I appreciate his willingness to remain on the EC for the
remainder of the summer, as Joachim came up to speed. I wish Eric the
best, as he transitions from busy faculty member to busy start-up
founder, and thank Joachim for taking on this important task.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable and productive fall.