The University of Arizona

Richard Snodgrass


Richard Snodgrass has been involved in numerous initiatives over the last fifteen years. Here are nine: TSQL2, the SQL/Temporal part of SQL3, the SIGMOD Online web site, the SIGMOD Anthology, the SIGMOD DiSC, the Rights and Responsibilities in ACM Publishing policy, the ACM Computing Portal, ACM TODS policies, and the ACM History Committee.

  • TSQL2

    In May 1992 Rick circulated a white paper that proposed that a temporal extension to SQL be produced by the research community.

    A preliminary language specification authored by the members of the TSQL2 Design Committee (Richard T. Snodgrass (chair), Ilsoo Ahn, Gad Ariav, Don Batory, James Clifford, Curtis E. Dyreson, Ramez Elmasri, Fabio Grandi, Christian S. Jensen, Wolfgang Käfer, Nick Kline, Krishna Kulkarni, T. Y. Cliff Leung, Nikos Lorentzos, John F. Roddick, Arie Segev, Michael D. Soo and Suryanarayana M. Sripada) appeared in the March 1994 issue of ACM SIGMOD Record. A tutorial of the language appeared in the September 1994 issue of ACM SIGMOD Record and the final language specification was also made available via anonymous FTP in early October 2004, less than fifteen months after the committee had been founded. The final specification and commentaries appeared in a 674-page book published in 1995.

  • SQL/Temporal

    In December 1994 Rick started meeting with the national SQL standards committee (ANSI X3H2), which forwards proposals to the international SQL standards committee (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 21/WG 3 DBL), to introduce temporal constructs into SQL3.

    In January 1996 an ISO Working Draft entitled "(ISO Working Draft) Temporal (SQL/Temporal)", Part 7 of the nascent SQL3 draft standard, incorporated the PERIOD data type from TSQL2. In January 1997 ANSI forwarded to the ISO Madrid meeting a valid-time proposal and a transaction-time proposal, both authored by Richard T. Snodgrass, Michael H. Böhlen, Christian S. Jensen and Andreas Steiner. Due to disagreements within the ISO committee as to where temporal support in SQL should go, the project responsible for temporal support was canceled in 2001. Jim Melton was instrumental in getting Part 7 (SQL/Temporal) established and in shepherding the proposals through the complex standards process.

    Concepts and constructs from SQL/Temporal, including valid-time and transaction-time, have been included in the SQL:2011 standard and have been implemented in IBM DB2 10 for z/OS, Oracle 9i, 10g, and 11g, and Teradata Database 13.10 and 14. The standard and these DBMSes generally include the period data type, valid-time support, transaction-time support, and support for bitemporal tables, sequenced primary keys, sequenced uniqueness, sequenced referential integrity, and sequenced selection and projection, in a manner quite similar to that proposed in SQL/Temporal. Other products have also included temporal support based in part on these ideas.

  • SIGMOD Online

    At the September 26, 1997 SIGMOD Executive Committee meeting, Rick as SIGMOD Chair proposed to "make the web page more of a publication, with an Editor in Chief and an Editorial Board."

    The SIGMOD Online web site, initiated earlier by Marianne Winslett, was subsequently enhanced significantly, has an official Information Director (first, Alberto Mendelzon, appointed by Rick, and then Mario Nascimento and then Alex Labrinidis, both appointed by chair Tamer Özsu, and now Jeffrey Yu, appointed by chair Raghu Ramakrishnan), is quite full-featured, and has an active Editorial Board.

  • SIGMOD Anthology

    Rick also proposed at the September 26, 1997 SIGMOD Executive Committee meeting to "produce an Anthology CDRom of all past SIGMOD (and perhaps PODS) conference papers, digitizing the images and allowing full-text search, at a cost of $10-20K. This CDRom would be given to all current members, and would be used to promote new members. There would be an Editor of this one-time publication (similar to the Proceedings Editor)."

    The Anthology started with three CDs, for the SIGMOD and PODS proceedings and IEEE Database Engineering Bulletin, then grew to five CDs, as the VLDB conference was added. Those five CDs were distributed in 2000. Volume 2 comprised seven CDs and included the back proceedings of many conferences (ADBIS, CIKM, COOPIS, DASFAA, DL, DOLAP, ER, EDBT, GIS, HyperT, ICDE, ICDT, KRDB, MFDBS, NPIV, OODBS, PDIS, SIGIR, and SSDBM). The third volume contained the TODS and TKDE journals; the fourth volume included more recent TODS papers, VLDBJ papers, several books, SIGKDD Explorations, SIGMOD Record, and ADBIS proceedings. Both volumes were distributed in 2001. The last volume, distributed in 2002, included DPD, POS, SIGIR Forum, SSD, XP, and several more books. The full set was released as the "Silver Edition" on two DVDs. Rick negotiated the rights to all of these publications, a total of 150,000 pages of database papers. Michael Ley was Editor of the volumes up through the silver edition; Curtis Dyreson is the current Editor. Digitizing this massive material was enabled by the substantial fund balance created by the prior SIGMOD executive committee: Won Kim, Laura Haas, Mike Carey, and Mike Franklin.

  • SIGMOD Digital Symposium Collection

    Rick also proposed at the September 26, 1997 SIGMOD Executive Committee meeting to "supplement with a yearly SIGMOD Annual CDRom with current conference papers, demo software, talks from the conference (e.g., in powerpoint), etc. to be distributed inside Sept issue of SIGMOD record, as a continuing enticement to retain members. This publication would have an EIC and Editorial Board."

    The SIGMOD Digital Symposium Collection (DiSC) has been published on CDROM and more recently on DVD annually since 1999. The third volume, the last one published under Rick's direction, contained fourteen conference proceedings, six journals, and four newsletters, a total of over 1100 PDF files. Rick negotiated the rights to that material. Isabel Cruz was Editor of all three of these volumes; Aidong Zhang took over from her, then Shahram Ghandeharizadeh handled several volumes; now Joachim Hammer is Editor. The SIGMOD Executive Committee, Meral Özsoyoglu, Eric Hanson, and Mike Franklin were very supportive and helpful throughout this effort.

  • ACM Computing Portal

    In May 1999 Rick presented to the ACM Council, and later that fall to the ACM Publications Board and SIG Governing Board (SGB), a proposal (PowerPoint, pdf) for "a new ACM service, the ACM Computing Portal". This is a web-based repository of bibliographic information of all the computing literature." This proposal arrived at a "ballpark figure of one million items" for "the entire history of computing, from roughly 1940 to 2000."

    Two pricing models, a free-access model proposed by Rick and a subscription-based model ($26 for ACM members, $175 for non-members), were considered by a Portal Pricing Model Committee. Their February 13, 2002 recommendation, accepted by ACM Council, stated, "Full free access ... should be opened to all 80,000 ACM members and SIG members. The public should continue to have free, but limited access." The limitation is no advanced search. Judy Brown, Ron Cytron, Steve Levitan, and Marilyn Tremaine, then chairs of SIGGRAPH, SIGPlan, SIGDA, and SIGCHI, respectively, were instrumental in marshaling SGB resources and support.

    The ACM Portal, also called the ACM Guide, was released to the public on May 21, 2003. On February 14, 2007, ACM announced that "the number of works represented in ACM's vast digital collection of published computing literature passed the 1,000,000 mark." In 2010 it had grown to 1.5 million entries.

    The ACM Portal is a rare resource: comprehensive, non-commercial, non-governmental, discipline-wide, multi-publisher, and free. It joins only one other resource sharing those attributes (from a thorough list of four dozen on-line bibliographic databases): the Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library, with 26K entries. ACM CEO John White and the ACM Publications staff under Mark Mandelbaum and Bernie Rous's leadership were critical in realizing the Portal.

  • Rights and Responsibilities in ACM Publishing

    On June 27, 2001, the ACM Publications Board, with Rick as Chair, adopted a far-ranging policy that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of readers, authors, reviewers, editors and libraries. Rick reported on "Progress on ACM's Becoming the Preferred Publisher" in the February 2002 CACM. This was the initial component of the strategic vision that Rick developed with the Board, to "ensure that ACM becomes the preferred publisher for computer science."

  • ACM TODS Policies

    On July 1, 2001, Rick was appointed Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Database Systems, taking over from Won Kim, who had strengthened this journal in significant ways during his term. Rick's initial vision statement proposed several initiatives to further improve this already prestigious journal: increase the subscription base, invite the best papers in top conferences to submit to TODS, allow focused tutorials, reduce length of long papers, guarantee a maximum turnaround time, publish backlog and turnaround statistics, institute a web-based manuscript tracking system, and provide an Associate Editor handbook. His 2004 vision statement proposed to reduce the average end-to-end time to below 18 months, to increase the number of papers per volume to 24, to reduce the maximum article length from about 65 pages to 50 pages, to bring the average article length to 33 pages, and to expand the DL content.

    Most of these ambitious goals were met. In December 2002 Rick announced that TODS was the first ACM journal to provide all of the ACM rights and responsibilities. Included were explicit policies that referees will be expected to review at most one TODS paper in any twelve-month period and that TODS was guaranteeing a turnaround time of less than six months. (This was later reduced to five months.) In September 2003 he announced that TODS was within just a few weeks of conferences (specifically SIGMOD and PODS) in terms of average turnaround time (13.7 versus 11.5 weeks), about twice that of conferences for end-to-end time (17 versus 7 months, reflecting multiple review cycles), and similar to top conferences in reference age and selectivity. In February 2007 TODS commenced double-blind reviewing. The last complete volume edited by Rick (2007) contained 26 papers. The longest paper contained 52 pages; the average paper length stabilized at 42 pages, still somewhat above the desired goal. And procedures for this journal have become regularized through almost two dozen specific policies discussed and adopted by the TODS Editorial Board.

  • ACM History Committee

    In June 2003 Rick proposed to ACM Council that it form an ACM History Committee. David S. Wise joined the effort in September 2003.

    The ACM Executive Committee inaugurated the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on History in October 2003; the next year the ACM Executive Committee elevated the subcommittee to be a standing History Committee of the Executive Committee, with Rick and David as co-chairs. The committee's charter is to "foster preservation and interpretation of the history of the ACM and its role in the development of computing." Rick coordinated the oral history series, managing the commissioning and production of some two dozen oral histories.

    The 2003 proposal advocated an "ACM Historical Archive." ACM announced in 2008 that it "has chosen the Charles Babbage Institute (CBI) as the repository for its extensive collection of internal ACM records, conference proceedings, research-based journals, magazines, and the personal papers and edited interviews of legendary figures that span the history of computing." In January 2009 Mary Hall took over as Chair of this active committee and later that year in August the ACM Archive was publicly announced.

    The 2003 proposal also advocated a "separate Turing Award web site, containing a digital version of every single document ever written by every ACM Turing Award winner, along with interviews and ancillary information." Mary Hall announced in the December 2012 CACM (in conjunction with the A.M. Turing Centenary Celebration) the formation of the A. M. Turing Award web site.

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