4. OVER 1200, AND RECENTLY OVER 1500
At the beginning, the SIGCSE Technical Symposium attract-
ed a modest group of computing professionals who had inter-
ests in computing education—both at the undergraduate and
graduate levels. Records of attendance during the early years
are spotty. The earliest records of SIGCSE attendance show 143
for SIGCSE 1970 in Houston, TX, 179 at SIGCSE 1972 held in
St. Louis, MO, 200 for SIGCSE 1973 at Ohio State University,
and 300+ for SIGCSE 1974 in Detroit, MI. Interestingly, this
attendance level of a few hundred is consistent with some his-
toric ACM guidelines for the size of conferences labeled as a
Records of attendance during the combined ACM Comput-
ing Week also require interpretation, since attendees could reg-
ister for one conference or for combinations.
Starting in the mid-1990s, attendance records are consistently available, although different sources (e.g., [ 7, 8]) sometimes report slightly different numbers. (Perhaps an individual
could not attend because of a medical condition, or an invited
speaker received a complimentary registration.) The graph in
Figure 1 represents merged data from both [ 7] and [ 8].
Overall, symposium attendance was generally consistent
at 700 to 800 during ACM Computing Week. The number
decreased for SIGCSE 1997, when the symposium started on
its own, but the next several years showed a steady increase.
Finally, in 2004, attendance broke 1200 (reaching 1228), and
attendance hovered between 1180 and 1280 through 2015 (
except 1304 attended 2013—slightly above range). Most recently
SIGCSE 2017 showed a clear and substantial increase to 1501
and SIGCSE 2018 had 1731 registered attendees.
In addition to this overall pattern for attendance at the symposium, three additional factors reflect the level of attendee involvement.
• Symposium attendees often want to make the most of their
time; travel can be expensive, and participants often sign up
for workshops both before and after the symposium itself.
Specifically, over the years, many attendees have shown
strong and increasing interest in both pre-symposium
workshops (e.g., on Wednesday) and post-symposium
workshops (e.g., on Saturday afternoons or Sunday
Computing Week 1997. Also, ACM decided to reorganize its
schedule, and ACM97 was held Saturday-Wednesday, March
1–5, 1997. In this restructuring, SIGCSE 1997 had several new
• SIGCSE 1997 was held Thursday–Saturday, February
27-March 1, before ACM97, rather than being scheduled
• SIGCSE 1997 was run largely as an independent conference,
with its headquarters in a hotel, and not at the conference
• SIGCSE 1997 had a full program, with up to six parallel
sessions; some discussion considered whether sessions
should extend to Saturday as well, but this seemed more
than could reasonably be handled at this stage of the
• In line with some previous experience with conferences
on the west coast, submissions and attendance were
down somewhat. Overall, 75 of 177 papers were accepted
(including 18 of 39 from outside the United States).
• Although largely independent, ACM had arranged
contracts for SIGCSE 1997, ACM97, and related activities.
Also, the same management company supporting ACM97
was also utilized for SIGCSE 1997.
• As separate SIGCSE and ACM conferences evolved
during 1997, some issues related to communications and
misunderstandings arose. However, when accounts closed,
SIGCSE 1997 finished with a small budget surplus, and
SIGCSE had gained much new experience.
Starting in 1998, the SIGCSE Symposia have been completely
on their own—not affiliated with separate ACM conferences,
although SIGCAS has held a co-located meeting. This independence allowed some expansion of the overall program.
• Regular sessions ran all day Thursday and Friday, and on
• A Doctoral Consortium was organized for all day on
• Workshops were spread throughout the conference (but not
during other symposium sessions).
• SIGCSE 1998 coordinated with the ACM Programming
• As was the case in SIGCSE 1996, SIGCSE cooperated
with faculty groups from two-year schools to encourage
attendance and involvement.
• A/V costs increased substantially from the past, so
conference registration was raised from $115 to $130, and
workshop registration from $40 to $45—still quite low for
For the next seven years the SIGCSE Symposium welcomed,
as a co-located conference, the IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEET). After this initial collaboration CSEET followed a different path for its annual event.
Figure 1: Conference Attendance: 1990-2018