SISAP 2018: 11th International Conference on Similarity Search and Applications

Authors: Edgar Chávez (CICESE, Mexico), Stéphane Marchand-Maillet (Universitè de Genève, Switzerland) and Yasin N. Silva (Arizona State University, USA)

Website: http://www.sisap.org

Dates: 7-9 October, 2018

Location: Lima (Peru)

General Chair: Edgar Chávez

Program Committee Co-Chairs: Stéphane Marchand-Maillet, Yasin N. Silva

The International Conference on Similarity Search and Applications (SISAP) is an annual forum for researchers and application developers in the area of similarity data management. It aims at the technological problems shared by numerous application domains, such as data mining, information retrieval, multimedia, computer vision, pattern recognition, computational biology, geography, biometrics, machine learning, and many others that make use of similarity search as a necessary supporting service.

From its roots as a regional workshop in metric indexing, SISAP has expanded to become the only international conference entirely devoted to the issues surrounding the theory, design, analysis, practice, and application of content-based and feature-based similarity search. The SISAP initiative has also created a repository serving the similarity search community, for the exchange of examples of real-world applications, the source code for similarity indexes, and experimental testbeds and benchmark data sets (http://www.sisap.org). The proceedings of SISAP are published by Springer as a volume in the Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) series.

The 2018 edition of SISAP was held at the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Lima, in a modern building just recently inaugurated. The conference was held back-to-back, with a shared session, with the International Symposium on String Processing and Information Retrieval (SPIRE), an independent symposium with some intersection with SISAP. The organization was smooth and with a strong technical program assembled by two co-chairs and sixty program committee members. Each paper was reviewed by at least three referees. The program was completed with three invited speakers of high caliber.

During this 11th edition of SISAP, the first invited speaker was Hanan Samet (http://www.cs.umd.edu/~hjs/) from the University of Maryland, a pioneer in the similarity search field, with several books published on the subject. Professor Samet presented a state of the art system for news search based on the geographical location of the user to get more accurate results. The second invited speaker was Alistair Moffat (https://people.eng.unimelb.edu.au/ammoffat/) from the University of Melbourne, who delivered a talk about a novel technique for building compressed indexes using Asymmetric Numeral Systems (ANS). The ANS is a curious case of a scientific breakthrough not published in a peer-reviewed journal. Although it is available only as an arXiv technical, it is widely used in the industry – from Google and Facebook to Amazon, the adoption has been widespread. The third keynote talk was delivered in the shared session with SPIRE by Moshe Vardi (https://www.cs.rice.edu/~vardi/) of Rice University, a most celebrated editor of Communications of the ACM. Professor Vardi’s talk was an eye-opening discussion of jobs conquered by machines and the perspectives in accepting technological changes in everyday life. In the same shared session, a keynote presentation of SPIRE was given by Nataša Przulj (http://www0.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/natasa/) of University College London, concerning molecular networks and the challenges researchers face in developing a better understanding of them. It is worth noting that roughly 10% of the SPIRE participants were inspired to attend the SISAP technical program.

As it is usually the case, SISAP 2018 included a program with papers exploring various similarity-aware data analysis and processing problems from multiple perspectives. The papers presented at the conference in 2018 studied the role of similarity processing in the context of metric search, visual search, nearest neighbor queries, clustering, outlier detection, and graph analysis. Some of the papers had a theoretical emphasis, while others had a systems perspective, presenting experimental evaluations comparing against state-of-the-art methods. An interesting event at the 2018 conference, as well as the two previous editions, was a poster session that included all accepted papers. This component of the conference generated many lively interactions between presenters and attendees, to not only learn more about the presented techniques but also to identify potential topics for future collaboration.

A shortlist for the Best Paper Award was created from those conference papers nominated by at least one of their 3 reviewers. An award committee of 3 researchers ranked the shortlisted papers, from which a final ranking was decided using Borda count. The Best Paper Award was presented during the Conference Dinner. In a tradition that began with the 2009 conference in Prague, extended versions of the top-ranked papers were invited for a Special Issue of the Information Systems journal.

The venue and the location of SISAP 2018 deserve a special mention. In addition to the excellent conference facilities at UTEC, we had many student volunteers who were ready to help ensure that the logistical aspects of the conference ran smoothly. Lima was a superb location for the conference. Our conference dinner was held at the Huaca Pucllana Restaurant, located on the site of amazing archaeological remains within the city itself. We also had many opportunities to enjoy excellently-prepared traditional Peruvian food and drink. Before and after the conference, many participants chose to visit Machu Picchu, voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

SISAP 2018 demonstrated that the SISAP community has a strong stable kernel of researchers, active in the field of similarity search and to fostering the growth of the community. Organizing SISAP is a smooth experience thanks to the support of the Steering Committee and dedicated participants.

SISAP 2019 will be organized in Newark (NJ, USA) by Professor Vincent Oria (NJIT). This attractive location in the New York City metropolitan area will allow for easy and convenient travel to and from the conference. One of the major challenges of the SISAP conference series is to continue to raise its profile in the landscape of scientific events related to information indexing, database and search systems.

Figure 1. The conference dinner at Pachacamac ruins

Figure 1. The conference dinner at Pachacamac ruins

Figure 2. After the very interesting technical sessions, we ended the conference with an excursion to Lima downtown

Figure 2. After the very interesting technical sessions, we ended the conference with an excursion to Lima downtown

Figure 3. Keynote by Vardi

Figure 3. Keynote by Vardi

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