SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award

SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis in Computer Networking and Data Communication

Recent Awards

  • 2013: Aaron Schulman (Observing and Improving the Reliability of Internet Last-Mile Links)
  • The dissertation provides the first observations of fundamental factors that limit the reliability of the Internet’s critical last-mile infrastructure and presents improvements to mitigate the effects of these factors.
  • 2012: Shyamnath Gollakota
  • The dissertation provides a fundamentally new and practical way to deal with interference in the wireless medium, often rendering it harmless or even turning it into an advantage. While traditional wireless systems have attempted to avoid interference, this thesis is the first to practically demonstrate techniques to decode packets under significant interference and leveraging it for improved security. The thesis is transformative and can significantly impact the design of future wireless communication systems.
  • Runners Up:
    Ashok Anand
    The dissertation presents a range of innovative techniques to eliminate redundancies in traffic across diverse hosts, routers, and networks across the Internet. The work itself is rigorous and comprehensive in its treatment of redundancy elimination techniques. As the demand for Internet bandwidth continues to be higher than ever before, such approaches can prove to be highly beneficial.
    Laurent Vanbever
    The dissertation provides fundamental innovations that allow a network to be re-configured without causing inconsistencies in network routing structures. The thesis encompasses good theoretical concepts that ensure global correctness properties and practical manifestations of these concepts to make them deployable. As networks around us continue to get more complex, the techniques developed in this thesis provide significant tools to improve efficient management of these networks.
  • 2011: Minlan Yu, Scalable Management of Enterprise and Data-Center Networks
  • Minlan Yu’s PhD thesis concerns the design, implementation and evaluation of a scalable management architecture for enterprise and data center networks.  Minlan’s research goes full circle, from important practical problems, to creative data structures and algorithms, to rigorous analysis and modeling, and finally to the design and implementation of novel systems.  Minlan’s thesis is exceptional both in breadth and depth, with proven results on one of the world’s largest datacenters.

    Runners Up:
    Michel Piatek, Scalable Data Sharing Without Centralized Trust

    Michael Piatek’s PhD thesis concerns the design and construction of effective content distribution systems. Amongst other contributions, he uses a mix of clever analysis and experimentation to devise a new peer-to-peer system “BitTyrant” that greatly outperformed alternatives, and which has been downloaded more than a million times. Michael’s dissertation succeeds by delivering insightful theory, demonstrated in practice.

    Aruna Balasubramanian, Architecting Protocols to Enable Mobile Applications in Diverse Wireless Networks
    Aruna Balasubramanian's PhD thesis concerns enhancing the experience of mobile users in the face of challenging network conditions, for
    instance by building disruption-tolerant networks.  Her work is based on careful analysis, and has been deployed and tested out in the field.  Her work has been cited hundreds of times, and has had a large impact on research in the area, raising the bar for experimental verification of wireless network systems.


This annual award was created by SIGCOMM in 2011, and will recognize excellent thesis research by doctoral candidates in the field of computer networking and data communication. The SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award winner and up to two runners-up will be recognized at the ACM SIGCOMM conference. The award winner will receive a plaque, a $1,500 honorarium and a complimentary registration to the following year’s ACM SIGCOMM Conference.  The runners-up each will receive a plaque.


Nominations are limited to one doctoral dissertation per department.

The final dissertation defense should take place at the nominee’s host institution during the 12 months before the submission deadline (see below).

Submissions must be received by the current SIGCOMM Awards Chair (Bruce Maggs) by November 30 of each year.  Each submitted doctoral dissertation must be on a topic related to computer networking and data communication. The determination of whether a thesis is in scope for the award will be made by the Award Committee. Each nominated dissertation must also have been successfully defended by the candidate, and the final version of each nominated dissertation must have been accepted by the candidate's academic unit. An English-language version of the dissertation must be submitted with the nomination. A dissertation can be nominated for both the SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award and the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award.


Submission Deadline

November 30

Decision Deadline

The Award Committee will inform the SIGCOMM Chair and the winner and runners-up of the results by December 31 of each year.

Submission Procedure

All nomination materials must be submitted electronically to the current Chair of the SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award by the submission deadline, and must be submitted in English. PDF format is preferred for all materials. Late submissions will not be considered.

Nominations for the award must include:

1.     A statement summarizing the candidate’s PhD thesis contributions and potential impact, and justification of the nomination (no more than two pages);

2.     The PhD thesis itself;

3.     An endorsement letter by the department chair;

4.     Three endorsement letters supporting the nomination including the significant PhD thesis contributions of the candidate. Each endorsement should be no longer than 500 words with clear specification of the nominee’s PhD thesis contributions and potential impact on the computer networking  field;

5.     A concise statement (one sentence) of the PhD thesis contribution for which the award is being given. This statement will appear on the plaque and on the SIGCOMM website.

The nomination rules are:

1.     The nominee must be a SIGCOMM member.

2.     No self-nomination is allowed.

3.     Each nominated dissertation must have been accepted (successfully defended) by the department within a 12-month period prior to the submission deadline.

Award Selection Committee

The Award Selection Committee will consist of three SIGCOMM members, one of whom will be appointed as the Selection Committee chair. Award committee members will be appointed by the current SIGCOMM awards chair. The committee chair will adjudicate conflicts of interest, appointing substitutes to the committee as necessary. Committee members may remain on the committee for up to four years.

Resolution of Conflict of Interest

A member of the award selection committee who has a potential conflict of interest should report it to the committee chair, and the committee chair will determine whether a conflict exists. If the conflict exists, the committee chair and the SIGCOMM awards chair will replace the member of the award selection committee with another volunteer.

A potential conflict of interest occurs when a person is involved in making a decision that:

  • could result in that person, a close associate of that person, or that person's company or institution receiving significant financial gain, such as a contract or grant, or
  • could result in that person, or a close associate of that person, receiving significant professional recognition, such as an award or the selection of a paper, work, exhibit, or other type of submitted presentation.

Some examples of instances of associations that could cause a conflict of interest are:

  • employment at the same institution or company
  • candidate for employment at the same institution or company
  • received an honorarium or stipend from the institution or company within the last year
  • co-author on book or paper in the last 48 months
  • co-principal investigator on grant or research project
  • actively working on project together
  • family relationship
  • close personal relationship
  • graduate advisee/advisor relationship
  • deep personal animosity