What's up Lately at ACM India

January 31, 2019

Dear friends,

Hope the new year has started well for all of you. While wishing you a very happy 2019, let me also take this opportunity to update you on some interesting developments at ACM India in the recent past and some which are in the works. There is a diversity of activities our 10,000-odd members across India actively participate in, making us a vibrant volunteer organization committed towards advancement of computing. So this is by no means an exhaustive list but just a representative one.

Hope you have had an opportunity to take a look at the ACM India website, which we have recently updated to cover the range of our activities across areas such as research and education, involving academia as well as industry. Apart from the home page, note the revamped pages like Summer Schools 2019 , ACM India Events, and News and Updates which is a gateway to member bulletin archive as a persistent repository of the announcements. Nevertheless, this update is an intermediate milestone as we are about to majorly revamp the website next quarter to improve navigation and the underlying architecture, with look and feel consistent with the parent ACM site.

Summer Schools
Building on the immensely popular and successful summer schools from the last two years, we are scaling up the program to conduct 7 ACM India Summer Schools 2019 on cutting-edge technology topics in multiple parts of India. As part of our initiative to foster collaboration between academia and industry, some of the summer schools this year have faculty participation and co-sponsorship from reputed companies with leadership in the respective technology areas. You must have received the call for registration for aspiring students. Feel free to forward the Summer Schools 2019 link to the students in your network and encourage their participation in this significant education initiative by ACM India.

Industry Webinar Series
ACM India Industry Webinar Series is our brand-new industry initiative, which had the inaugural session on Blockchain by Dr. Pandurang Kamat of Persistent Systems on 1 December 2018. This series comprises webinars delivered by technology leaders from Indian industry on topics of industry significance. We had an excellent response to the webinar with 120 live participants and around 500 registered for offline viewing. The next session will be by Dr. Gautam Shroff of TCS on 2 February 2019 on Enterprise AI. I invite all of you, whether student, faculty or industry professional, to register for this webinar . We will continue organizing such not-to-be-missed webinars every other month.

Institutional Partners
Another brand-new industry initiative we have launched is the Institutional Partner Program, where an organization joins ACM India’s efforts on multiple fronts to advance Computing as a Science and a Profession, and also provides generous financial support which is an essential requirement for a volunteer organization such as ours.

On behalf of ACM India, I am very excited to share with you that Icertis joins us as an Institutional Partner at the highest Platinum tier today! Please join me as we welcome and thank Icertis for coming on board. Let me also take this opportunity to thank our long-time institutional sponsors TCS, Google India and Persistent Systems for their sustained support over the years.

Doctoral Dissertation Award
The prestigious annual ACM India Doctoral Dissertation Award has been announced recently. Let us congratulate Keerti Choudhary of Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur for winning this coveted honour for "Compact and Efficient Fault Tolerant Structures for Directed Graphs". Honourable Mention goes to Deepesh Data of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research for "Communication Complexity and Characterization Results in Secure Computation".

You will have an opportunity to hear them speak about their research at the Inter-Research Institute Student Seminar (IRISS) next week in Kochi, Kerala. In addition, IRISS provides a platform for student researchers to showcase their latest work to a conclave of researchers and potential employers. Based on the success of previous IRISS events, we have made it a two-day event, with a broader and richer coverage of contemporary research challenges, including talks from early career researchers in academia and industry. Please refer to IRISS 2019 page for more details and to register for this premier student focused event.

Annual Event
As usual, IRISS immediately precedes and is co-located with the flagship Annual Event of ACM India , which will be held in Kochi on 8 February 2019, to discuss trends in science and technology, and to celebrate ACM's spirit and India's accomplishments in computing. This event is attended by ACM Council members from India, leadership team from ACM headquarters in the US, and researchers from academia and industry. The event this year will feature talks by eminent personalities such as Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay , Noam Nisan, Charles E. Leiserson and Sanjeev Arora.

Compute 2018
While we’re on the topic of ACM India’s annual events and conferences, Compute 2018 took place at Chitkara University in Chandigarh on 12 to 14 October 2018. The theme of Compute has been to improve the quality of computing education in India. The initiative continues through the year with next major milestone, Compute 2019, which will take place in Goa in October.

Any account of ACM India’s initiatives in the field of education cannot be complete without the mention of CSpathshala. Bebras India Challenge was organized by CSpathshala from 19 to 30 November for age groups 8-18 years. It was offered in English, Gujarati, Marathi and Telugu, and saw participation from around 137,000 students (of whom around 80,000 were girl students) from 380 schools across 12 states! In the last 6 months, it has also conducted 15 teacher training workshops in various parts of the country, reaching 874 teachers from 545 schools. Its efforts were recognized by GGIS school with the Guruvarya award for “'Encouraging Best Practices in Schools”. As a significant future activity, a 1-day Computational Thinking workshop (CTiS 2019) for school teachers is planned in April 2019, a first of its kind event for school teachers. This will be an annual workshop to share experiences in teaching Computational Thinking.

International Conferences Locating in India
It has been a collective effort from ACM India Council and the India SIGs to organize reputed international conferences in India, and bring the research community across the world and India together at an Indian venue to share their recent work. Close on the heels of prestigious conferences such as Mobicom 2018 and CODS-COMAD 2019 concluded recently, there will be premier conferences likeISEC 2019 and ICPE 2019 taking place in the near future.

Student and Professional Chapters are important components of ACM India. We have 195 student chapters and 16 professional chapters nationwide, including the Special Interest Group and ACM-W chapters. With the dual objective of creating a healthy competition among chapters and working towards a social cause, we are soon announcing the “ACM India Chapters Technology Solution Contest”. Stay tuned for the details.

Featuring ACM India Members
Despite excellent contribution from our members towards the field of Computing, we realized that they often lack the individual visibility at global ACM level. We need to fix it at our end and make a conscious effort to get recognition for the work it deserves. We have started working with ACM Communications group and our own members to bring about a change. It will not happen overnight, but to start with we will see ACM India members featured in the “People of ACM” initiative as early as next month.

Communications of the ACM
Speaking of visibility of contributions from India, Communications of the ACM (CACM) will bring out a Regional Special Section on India in October 2019, which will focus on research and innovations from the country. We have received tremendous response to the call for abstracts. The authors of short-listed contributions will come together for a workshop in Bangalore on 23 February. The workshop will collectively examine all ideas and will take final decision on the articles to feature in this India Section of CACM. It is a wonderful opportunity to tell the world about the unique and influential activities happening in India that may not be easily known outside or even inside the country.

I hope this update conveys the excitement of engaging in these initiatives, existing and new, that makes ACM India a thriving and happening organization. Again, I am sure there are a number of activities which did not get mentioned here, but let us thank each and every member for their efforts. We will continue to capture the recent and imminent developments through such communication in future as well.

Please spread the word about ACM India and encourage participation and contribution from fellow computing professionals like you.


Dr. Hemant Pande

Executive Director, ACM India