State of ICSE - My last Report as Steering Committee Chair

Dear ICSE community members,

In this state of the conference I want to share a short reflection about my four years as steering committee chair, some highlights of the upcoming ICSE operational guidelines, and a quick update on the next ICSEs.

Reflection of four years as Steering Committee Chair. It has been a pleasure to serve our community for the last four years. I am happy that we were able to:

  • Secure great sites and teams for the next 5 years (see last point below)
  • Formalize and communicate processes that help to steer the conference (see next point about the upcoming memorandum of understanding, the technical program guidelines and the general chair guidelines, and the yearly reports at the ICSE site)
  • Make the top-notch technical program bigger and less biased (double-blind reviews were started in some tracks as early as in 2017)
  • Increase the strength of key software engineering tracks like the industry-track
  • Explore new inclusive opportunities like having journal-first presentations
  • Grow the community as per the number of attendees and what it offers to the attendees

Having one of the best seats to learn about ICSE's breadth, its depth, its complexities, and the passion of our community members for our conference, also made me realize many aspects where we still have significant work to do, such as:

  • Establish better and regular mechanisms to communicate with and gather feedback from the community. This is something I learned roughly early in my tenure, and we have gotten better but did not get to go as far as I wished to be more community-data-driven
  • Close the loop on the implemented changes (e.g., journal-first, reviewing models, emerging tracks, ICSE finances and surplus allocation) on which data is being gathered
  • Develop a reviewing model for the technical track that can accommodate more risk
  • Maintain the registration cost of the conference affordable for our global community
  • Increase and support the participation of minorities, and offer more opportunities for new members to grow into our future leaders

As I describe these challenges, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate my successor, Laurie Williams, and wish her and the rest of the talented steering committee members the best of luck in addressing these pressing issues.

Highlights of Revised MOU. ICSE had been operating under an expired and dated memorandum of understanding with ACM and IEEE that defines the responsibilities and rights of all ICSE stakeholders. The ICSE Steering Committee appointed a task-force led by Antonella Bertolino to undertake revisions to this memorandum. Although the process is still ongoing, let me highlight a few points that are already solidifying:

  • More financial independence and guidelines for managing ICSE
  • A more open process for proposing hosting sites for the next ICSEs
  • Updates to the SC organization, membership, and the constitution of special task-forces to address emerging concerns and opportunities
  • Updates to the structure of the conference including management responsibilities, timelines, revised tracks, and team constitution
  • Updates to the technical program committee process including provisions for evolving the reviewing model
  • An explicit statement about ICSE’s stand against discrimination

The next 5 ICSEs. The conference at Gothenburg in 2018 had record attendance and a rich technical program. As usual, I was amazed by how many opportunities were packed during the ICSE week, how many colleagues and friends I had the chance to meet, and how fortunate we are to have such a community gathering every year. A big thanks to the organizing committee led by Ivica Crnkovic. Now about the next ICSEs:

  • ICSE 2019 is gearing up to be a great event where Jo Atlee and her team are pulling all the stops in Montreal. If you haven’t yet, I recommend you check the offerings at
  • ICSE 2020 will be held for the first time in Seoul, South Korea, where we are seeing significant growth in the software engineering community. The GC is Gregg Rothermel.
  • ICSE 2021 will be held for the first time in the Iberic peninsula, in Madrid, Spain. The GC is Natalia Juristo.
  • ICSE 2022 will be held in Pittsburgh, USA, which hosts several world-recognized software engineering institutions. The GC is Matthew B. Dwyer.
  • And ICSE 2023 will be going back to Melbourne, a hub of IT in Australia, after 30 years.

I would like to close by thanking the steering committee members for caring so much for our community, and a special thanks to David Rosenblum, Nenad Medvidovic, and Will Tracz for their advice and support in the last four years.

Looking forward to seeing you in Montreal!

Sebastian Elbaum
ICSE Steering Committee Chair
University of Virginia

Sebastian Elbaum
Anita Jones Professor of Computer Science.