2009Q3 Reports: SIGDAT

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               SIGDAT - 2009 Summer Report

SIGDAT is ACL's special interest group for linguistic data and corpus-based approaches to NLP.

In 2009, SIGDAT is organizing its annual Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing in Singapore on August 6-7, immediately following ACL 2009. Philipp Koehn and Rada Mihalcea are the co program chairs and David Chiang is the publications chair. There are 15 area chairs. The conference received 478 full paper submissions (a record) and approximately 100 papers were ultimately accepted for oral presentation and 58 submissions were accepted for poster presentation. Preliminary pre-registration numbers from several days before the early registration deadline exceeded 250 people, and thus full registration counts are likely to exceed 300 attendees. EMNLP 2009 will be held in 4 parallel sessions and the proceedings will be nearly 1500 pages long. On all dimensions EMNLP and SIGDAT have had a record year in 2009, with EMNLP exceeding the size of most pre-2000 ACL conferences and similar to recent EACL and NAACL-HLT main conferences in size.

In 2008, SIGDAT organized a relatively independent 3-day EMNLP conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, from October 25-27, at the Prince Kuhio Hotel, Waikiki, held after the AMTA 2008 machine translation conference at the same venue. Mirella Lapata and Hwee Tou Ng were program co-chairs, Sebastian Pado was the publications chair and Priscilla Rasmussen handled local arrangements. 400 paper submissions were received, a strong number for an off-season meeting not associated with an ACL event and held in the middle of the pacific. 81 papers were accepted for oral presentation and 35 papers were presented as posters in a full catered dinner poster session. Total attendance exceeded 230. The proceedings exceeded 1000 pages. Current budget numbers suggest that the conference made a substantial surplus, showing the financial viability of off-season anchor EMNLP conferences held even in remote locations.

Also in 2008-2009, SIGDAT completed its official constitution and it was approved by the ACL Executive Committee (SIGDAT was created before ACL SIGs were required to have constitutions). Elections for officers are being held this summer. SIGDAT membership currently exceeds 500 people.

SIGDAT has long had a tradition of all major decisions being made by democratic vote of its 30-person organizing committee. In addition, in recent years SIGDAT has conducted broad surveys of its membership (and ACL attendees more broadly) for their direct feedback on the location and timing of its meetings. These surveys have consistently indicated a strong demand for EMNLP to be held off-phase from the standard Dec-Feb ACL/NAACL/COLING paper submission deadlines (and summer conferences), with a (northern) summer EMNLP submission deadline and Oct/Nov weekend meeting. EMNLP's three consecutive years of 400-500 submissions and 230-300+ attendees suggests the viability of SIGDAT continuing to organize off-phase stand-alone EMNLP meetings in the future.

The new SIGDAT constitution includes a specific mandate that the decisions regarding location and timing of EMNLP meetings (and other major EMNLP/SIG initiatives) be based on the broad feedback and participation of its membership, and a broad survey will be conducted shortly regarding the SIGDAT membership's collective concrete preferences for EMNLP 2010 and beyond.

       - David Yarowsky
         Secretary-Treasurer