Over the years, SIGMOD has expanded beyond a traditional "database" conference to include several areas related to information management. This year’s ACM SIGMOD/PODS conference (on Management of Data, and Principles of Database Systems), held in Scottsdale, Arizona was no different. We were impressed by the wide variety of researchers from industry and academia alike the conference attracted, and enjoyed learning how others are pushing the limits of scalability in data storage and processing. In addition to an excellent set of papers on a large number of topics, we saw a couple of recurring themes:
1) Data Visualization
- Pat Hanrahan from Stanford gave a keynote on some of the challenges involved in building systems to enable "data enthusiasts" to manage and visualize data.
- Google’s Fusion Tables group also had a paper on this topic: Efficient Spatial Sampling of Large Geographical Tables, by Anish Das Sarma, Hongrae Lee, Hector Gonzalez, Jayant Madhavan, Alon Halevy. (This paper has been invited to a TODS special issue on best papers of SIGMOD 2012).
- A similar effort from the University of Washington was presented as a demo: VizDeck: Self-Organizing Dashboards for Visual Analytics, by Alicia Key, Bill Howe, Daniel Perry, Cecilia Aragon.
2) Big Data
There’s been a widespread trend over the last several years away from databases, towards highly scalable “NoSQL” systems. We don’t think that trade-off is necessary, and were happy to see several other speakers advocate a similar theme -- yes, databases are useful, and developers shouldn’t need to give up database features and ease of use in the name of scalability.
This theme was supported by an industry session on Big Data featuring talks from other companies: Facebook (TAO: How Facebook Serves the Social Graph), Twitter (Large-Scale Machine Learning at Twitter), and Microsoft (Recurring Job Optimization in Scope). Googler Kirsten LeFevre was a panelist on the "Perspectives on Big Data" panel organized by Surajit Chaudhuri from Microsoft, and also featuring Donald Kossmann from ETHZ, Sam Madden from MIT, and Anand Rajaraman from Walmart Labs. Last but not the least, Surajit Chaudhuri also gave an excellent keynote outlining some of the research challenges that the new era of "Big Data and Cloud" poses.
As has been the practice for several years now, to continue generating great interest in data management research, SIGMOD has been organizing panels such as this year's "New Research Symposium" (which included Anish Das Sarma from Google as a panelist).
In addition to sponsoring the conference, many Googlers attended contributing to a robust presence and affording us the opportunity to interact with the broader information management community. We've been pushing the frontiers of science with cutting-edge research in many aspects of data management, and we were eager to share our innovations and see what others have been working on. We found Amin Vahdat's keynote on the intersection of Networking and Databases to be a highlight of Google’s participation, which also included presenting papers, participating on panels, and taking part in planning and program committees:
Program Committee Members
Anish Das Sarma, Venkatesh Ganti, Zoltan Gyongyi, Alon Halevy (Tutorials Chair), Kristen LeFevre, Cong Yu
Amin Vahdat, Google (Keynote)
F1-The Fault-Tolerant Distributed RDBMS Supporting Google's Ad Business
Jeff Shute, Mircea Oancea, Stephan Ellner, Ben Handy, Eric Rollins, Bart Samwel, Radek Vingralek, Chad Whipkey, Xin Chen, Beat Jegerlehner, Kyle Littlefield, Phoenix Tong (Googlers)
Finding Related Tables
Anish Das Sarma, Lujun Fang, Nitin Gupta, Alon Halevy, Hongrae Lee, Fei Wu, Reynold Xin, Cong Yu (Googlers)
Changkyu Kim, Jongsoo Park, Nadathur Satish, Hongrae Lee (Google), Pradeep Dubey, Jatin Chhugani
Efficient Spatial Sampling of Large Geographical Tables
Anish Das Sarma, Hongrae Lee, Hector Gonzalez, Jayant Madhavan, Alon Halevy (Googlers)
Kristen LeFevre, Google
SIGMOD New Researcher Symposium - How to be a good advisor/advisee?
Anish Das Sarma, Google
Overall, this year’s SIGMOD was a great conference, widely attended by researchers from industry and academia, and comprised of a very interesting mix of research presentations and discussions. Google had a good showing at the conference, and we look forward to continuing this trend in the coming years.