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ACM Sigs Reach Golden Anniversaries

ACM Special Interest Groups are celebrating significant anniversaries.

A number of ACM Special Interest Groups have reached, or are approaching, significant anniversaries.


The ACM Special Interest Group on Operating Systems (SIGOPS) recently celebrated its golden (50th) anniversary at SOSP 2015 , the ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles. The 25th such symposium the group has staged, the event included an all-day SOSP History Day Workshop that celebrated "the history of ideas that emerged over that half-century and the rich inheritance of ideas, concerns, and practices we have received."

SIGOPS was founded in 1965 as the Special Interest Committee on Time-Sharing (SICTIME) by Henriette Avram, a computer programmer and systems analyst who developed the MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) format, which has become the international data standard for bibliographic and holdings information in libraries. The group became SIGOPS in 1968.

Speakers at the SOSP History Day Workshop included ACM past president Peter J. Denning, 1992 ACM A.M. Turing Award recipient Butler Lampson, 2008 ACM A.M. Turing Award recipient Barbara Liskov, Carnegie Group Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University M. Satyanarayanan, ACM past president David Patterson, Charles Piper Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Frans Kaashoek, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Senior Research Scientist David Clark, and 2012 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award recipient Jeff Dean. They addressed topics ranging from "Perspectives on OS Foundations" (Denning) to "Perspectives on System Languages and Abstraction" (Liskov) to "The Rise of Cloud Computing" (Dean).

As ACM approaches the 70th anniversary of its founding in 2017, a number of SIGs have had conferences that have celebrated the achievement of golden anniversaries in recent years.

ACM SE, the Southeast Regional Conference, which bills itself as "the oldest, continuously running, annual conference of the ACM." The annual conference of the ACM Special Interest Group on Applied Computing (SIGAPP ), ACM SE was launched in 1961, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. SIGAPP also sponsors the Symposium on Applied Computing (SAC), which has been running since 1986; the organization held the 30th Annual ACM Symposium on Applied Computing (SAC 2015) in April at the University of Salamanca, Spain.

Clemson University professor emeritus of computer science Joe Turner, who has been chair of ACM SE several times, recalls there was little celebration of the 50th anniversary at SE 12; "the only thing we did was to include a brief history of the conference (which I wrote), and a list of all conferences, in the proceedings. We did upgrade the meals and breaks a bit from the usual level, so it was more of an acknowledgement than a celebration."

Another conference that has reached the 50-year landmark is ACM SIGMIS CPR, the Special Interest Group on Management Information Systems Computers and People Research Conference, which was held for the 50th time in Milwaukee, WI, in 2012. As the conference chairs observed at the time, "several generations of IT professionals have undergone this cycle of preparation, recruitment, and retention. As baby boomers retire, a new generation of IT professionals presents yet another set of opportunities and challenges for continued research. These transitions beg the questions: what have we learned in the past 50 years and what do we envision as emerging issues for the next 50?"

Conference co-chair Monica Adya of Marquette University recalls the SIGMIS CPR event in 2012 included a session "that focused on revisiting the past and looking to the future," as well as a Friday evening networking dinner that included a 50th anniversary celebration, complete with a birthday cake. "We made a concerted effort to invite colleagues who had rich histories with the IS and CPR communities and the networking event brought their perspectives together." Conference co-chair Robert L. Horton of  the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, recalled, "At appropriate times during the convention, we ran a 155-slide PowerPoint deck showing cultural events of 1962," as well as giving each conference participant a flashdrive containing a copy of Spacewar, "considered by many to be the first computer game, developed at MIT in 1962"; a digital copy of Kenneth Iverson’s book "A Programming Language," published in 1962, and a copy of the proceedings of the first iteration of the conference held at Santa Monica, CA, in June 1962.

In 2013, the Design Automation Conference (DAC ) celebrated its 50th anniversary. In addition to ACM, DAC is sponsored by the Electronic Design Automation Consortium (EDA Consortium) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and is supported by ACM's Special Interest Group on Design Automation (SIGDA). The 50th anniversary conference, DAC ’13, was held with the cooperation of the ACM Special Interest Group on Embedded Systems (SIGBED ).

Yervant Zorian, general chair of DAC 2013, recalled there were "multiple activities to celebrate the anniversary, including an elegant awards banquet with the participation of almost all previous general chairs." In the course of the conference, he said, "We doubled the number of keynotes and introduced visionary talks by CEOs in the EDA industry (a total of 10 plenary talks)." In addition, "We organized a Global Forum at the exhibition floor of DAC showcasing 30 booths/countries that benefited from DAC over the past 50 years. We also held a large party for all the attendees at the Austin City Limits (with three bands playing back to back). "

A SIG with a fast-approaching 50th anniversary is the ACM Special Interest Group on Microarchitecture (SIGMICRO ). MICRO-48, the 48th Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture 2015, will be held Dec. 5-9 in Waikiku, Hawaii; the 50th iteration of that event, which the SIG describes as "the premier forum for presenting, discussing, and debating innovative microarchitecture ideas and techniques for advanced computing and communication systems," will take place in 2017. .

The Winter Simulation Conference (WSC ) was launched in 1966, but was not an annual event in its early years, and so will not celebrate its 50th anniversary until 2018. The event is co-sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group on Simulation and Modeling (SIGSIM ), which owns 25% of the event; other full financial co-sponsors include the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Simulation Society (INFORM-SIM), the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), and the Society for Modeling and Simulation International (SCS). This year’s iteration of WSC will be held Dec. 6-9 in Huntington Beach, CA.

Said Bobby Schnabel, ACM’s new executive director and CEO, "The 50th anniversary celebrations by a number of ACM conferences in a wide variety of areas reinforces ACM's position as the world's leading computing professional society, spanning the breadth of computing.  It is fitting and important that we honor and celebrate the past of ACM and its conferences, at the same time that ACM's conferences, workshops, publications and other programs continually adapt to the always rapidly changing field of computing."

Lawrence M. Fisher is Senior Editor/News for ACM magazines.


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