The SIGCSE Symposium: A Brief History
conflicting demands arise in the mix of papers, panels, special
sessions, etc. For example, the addition of one panel session
might mean reduction in the number of sessions for papers.
5. 1 SUBMISSIONS, ACCEPTANCES, AND ACCEPTANCE
Papers consistently comprise a substantial component of each
SIGCSE Technical Symposium. The first symposium, held on
November 16, 1970 in Houston, Texas, included the presentation of 18 papers, selected from over 40 submitted. Over the
years, the length of the symposium has expanded several times,
with regular programming progressing from one day to two
days, to two and a half days. Pre-symposium and post-symposium activities have supplemented the main program substantially and attracted increased attendance and paper submissions.
In what follows, the first graph (Figure 3) presents both
the number of papers submitted and the number accepted.
Numbers of submissions for some years are not available, and
different sources (e.g., [ 7, 8]) sometimes report slightly different numbers, perhaps due to duplicate submissions or papers
withdrawn. As indicated, the number of submissions has varied somewhat over the years, and with a reasonably consistent level of about 300 submissions between 2004 and 2015.
Submissions grew to 348 for SIGCSE 2017 and to over 500
for SIGCSE 2018, and it will be interesting to observe if these
increases will continue in the future.
Turning to papers accepted, the graph in Figure 3 shows a
modest increase over the years, largely reflecting longer conferences and increased number of parallel tracks. For any year, a
program committee must balance the number of papers, panels, and other sessions, so the number of paper sessions may
vary modestly. However, even with adjustments from year to
year, the number of accepted papers has remained quite steady,
between 100 and 111, for about 18 years (2005-2017).
With both the number of papers submitted and the number
accepted being reasonably steady for several years, the acceptance rate for papers has remained reasonably steady (mostly
between 30% and 35% since 1995 or so, as shown in Figure 4.
5. 2 THE PAPER REVIEWING PROCESS
For at least several decades, papers submitted to a SIGCSE sym-
• Many groups are using Wednesday as a time for pre-
Symposium meetings. These include a gathering of
department chairs, meeting of ACM-W, activities involving
SIGCAS and the ACM Committee on Professional Ethics,
and the BlueJ community, among others.
• In the 1990s, many airlines set fares so that travelers
could obtain dramatically cheaper tickets with a stay
over a Saturday night. Thus, beyond attendee interest in
workshops, attendees also had strong incentives to enroll
in one or more workshops to take advantage of cheap,
restricted fares. However, in 1996, Southwest Airlines
removed this restriction for relatively inexpensive seats,
and other airlines followed over the next few years.
Pragmatically, this change in airfare structure removed
the economic incentive to register for workshops,
although interest in taking advantage of professional
opportunities still provides strong incentives for
As the map in Figure 2 shows, the location for the Sympo-
sium has been spread throughout the lower 48 states. Future
sites are selected under a variety of constraints:
• a large enough city with a convention facility to
accommodate 1600 attendees;
• enough hotel rooms close by the meeting site available at a
• ease of access by air, with consideration for international
• a number of restaurant choices near the meeting site; and
• reasonable weather during the first week of March.
5. SYMPOSIA SCOPE AND STATISTICS
We now turn to reflecting on the technical content of the Symposia. Over the 48+ years of its existence, the SIGCSE Technical
Symposium has continued to evolve and expand, and symposium
leadership has had to balance various types of sessions to yield
an attractive and varied program. For example, plenary sessions
generally have expanded from just one or two keynote speakers
to one address each day plus assorted community events (e.g.,
a reception, a first-timers luncheon, a closing luncheon). Also,
with a limited number of time slots available over a conference,
Figure 3: Papers Submitted and Accepted
Figure 2: Locations of the SIGCSE Technical Symposia