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Communications of the ACM

Editor's letter

Around the World: (The First Time) with Communications' Regional Special Sections


In 2017, we made the strategic decision to launch Communications' Regional Special Sections (RSS) and declared "Here comes Everybody … to Communications." Next month (April 2021), we will publish the special section for Arabia, completing our circumnavigation of the world in three years. We are already hearing clamor for "we want another chance to highlight the best in our region" with a collection of Hot Topics and Big Trends.

It was not easy. The team has navigated complex politics, regional rivalries and tensions, and a wealth of logistics challenges (including COVID-19!) to reveal the remarkable creativity, technology, excellence, and unique computing culture around the globe. And while our reach has been broad and inclusive, we have by no means touched it all. There is much more to be done!

"The team has navigated complex politics, regional rivalries, and a wealth of logistics challenges (including COVID-19!) to reveal remarkable creativity, technology, excellence, and unique computing culture around the globe."

Communications' RSS global initiative's goal is to "give deeper insight, focused coverage, and elevate distinctive and compelling highlights of computing drawn from regions around the world" to enhance the inclusiveness of Communications and the ACM. We have circled the globe, putting together six special sections focused on China, Europe, East Asia and Oceania, India, Latin America, and Arabia. We have fulfilled our promise to have each special section led by and comprised of authors from the region. We believe this approach essential to building a strong ACM community throughout the world, spanning academic research, industry, government, and beyond.

The Regional Special Sections each opened a window into a different part of the world for the readership of Communications, providing insights and perspective on technical, social, and cultural issues in computing. Specifically, we set out to represent the best of computing leadership and distinctive development for each region with a sharp focus on:

  • Leading technical and research advances and activities;
  • Leading industry and research players;
  • Innovation and the shape of computing in the region; and
  • Unique challenges and opportunities.

The special sections have emerged as a "multicultured splendor," and many readers have shared their praise and compliments for what they learned in reading the special sections—in some cases even one for their own region!

The RSS's unusual diversity of topics is by design. It has a creative format, combining short articles of two formats—Hot Topics and Big Trends. But the insights and colorful perspectives were provided by the extraordinary collection of 269 authors.

As you can see, we have done well in regional diversity, and in reaching beyond the academic research community, but definitely have room for improvement in expanding the community and increasing gender diversity!

I am particularly proud to report that each of the RSSs were led by extraordinary co-leads and authors drawn exclusively from the regions. The Regional Special Section is led overall by Editorial Board co-chairs Jakob Rehof, Haibo Chen, and P J Narayanan (thanks to Sriram Rajamani who has recently stepped down), and the Editorial board members (David Padua, Kenjiro Taura, Sue Moon, and Tao Xie). Thanks to this team that works tirelessly to achieve excellence, inclusion, coverage, and interesting insights. Thanks to the co-leads and authors from each region whose efforts are instrumental in bringing an insightful and comprehensive perspective.

Finally, the RSSs were driven by the extraordinary efforts of Morgan Denlow and Lihan Chen; each Deputies to the EiC.

A heartfelt thanks from all of us who have benefited! Now, around again!

Andrew A. Chien, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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Andrew A. Chien is the William Eckhardt Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, Director of the CERES Center for Unstoppable Computing, and a Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

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