Reports from ACM Multimedia System 2021

Editor: Mylene C.Q. Farias, University of Brasilia (UnB)


The 12th ACM Multimedia Systems Conference (MMSys’21) happened from September 28th through October 1st, 2021.  The  MMSys conference is an important forum for researchers in multimedia systems. But, due to the ongoing pandemic, the event was held in a hybrid mode – onsite in Istanbul, Turkey, and online. Organizers and chairs (Özgü Alay, Cheng-Hsin Hsu, and  Ali C. Begen) worked very hard to make sure the conference was successful, both for the on-site participants (around 50) and the online participants (with a peak of 330 concurrent viewers).  For a small description of the event, take a look at the text written by Ali Begen, one of the general chairs.
To encourage student authors to participate on-site, SIGMM has sponsored a group of students with Student Travel Grant Awards. Students who wanted to apply for this travel grant needed to submit an online form before the submission deadline. Then, the selection committee chose 7 travel grant winners. The selected students received either 1,000 or 2,000 USD to cover their airline tickets as well accommodation costs for this event. We asked the travel grant winners to share their unique experiences attending MMSys’21. The following are their comments.

Minh Nguyen

It is my honour to receive the SIGMM Student travel award that gives me a golden opportunity to attend the MMSys’2021 conference on-site. This conference is the first one I have attended during the Covid pandemic. I attended the whole conference, and I really appreciate the organizing committee who tried their best to organize this conference in a hybrid mode. It was a very interesting and well-organized conference where many innovative papers were introduced. The venue of the conference is a great place with professional staff and comfortable accommodation and meeting rooms. The local Turkish food attracted me. They were delicious. At this conference, I was happy to meet, connect, and discuss with experts working in multimedia systems, which is close to my PhD thesis. I was interested in informative and passionate keynotes about cutting-edge technologies and their open discussion. Especially, many novel papers motivated me and gave me some ideas for my future work in my PhD thesis. Also, their enjoyable social events brought me a chance to visit Istanbul and experience new things. I look forward to attending future editions of the conference.

Lucas Torrealba A.

I found the conference very interesting. It was my first experience of an in-person conference and it was amazing. The research articles presented seem very relevant to me and the organization did a wonderful job as well. In addition, it seems to be quite a good idea for the future to always leave hybrid ways to participate in the conferences.

Paniz Parastar

The MMsys2021 was my first in-person conference, and since it was highly organized, it raised my expectation of future conferences. Overall, many interesting topics were covered, and I only mentioned a couple of instances here. 
AI/ML are the hot topics as of today. I believe it’s enjoyable to see them applied in the various aspects of multimedia streaming and other areas as well as in computer vision. Notably, I liked the papers in NOSSDAV sessions on the last day of the conference adapting learning methods to improve the QoE of users. Since I’m working on distinguishing IoT devices and their traffics on the network these days, video clustering papers and mainly the paper that classifies the 360 videos from regular ones based on the traffic features (.i.e., flow and packet level features) were educational to me. Also, comparing subjective and objective quality assessment metrics alongside the various network conditions as they do in the paper may not be a new topic, but it is always interesting to explore. 
Plus, one of the most exciting talks for me was ‘Games as a Game Changer’, which was part of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Workshop. It changed my perception of games as an entertaining tool that also can help us better understand situations that don’t usually happen in our daily lives.

Ekrem Cetinkaya

MMSys’21 was my first in-person conference experience, and I can gladly say that it was above my expectations. We were welcomed by a fantastic organization, given how difficult the situation was. Everything went so smoothly, from the keynotes to paper presentations to demo sessions, and of course, social events.
Personally, two things were the most impressive for me. First, the keynote by Caitlin Kalinowski (Facebook) was given in person, and she had to fly from the U.S. to Istanbul just for this keynote. Second, the hybrid organization was thought through. There was a team of five whose duty was to make sure the conference was insightful for those who could not make it to Istanbul as well.
Moreover, the social events and the venues were really lovely. I learned that the MMSys community has a long history, and you could feel that, especially in those social events where it was an amicable environment, meaning that it was also easy for me to do some networking. Overall, I can say the MMSys conference was amazing in all aspects without any doubt. I want to thank the SIGMM committee once again for their travel grant, which made this experience possible.

Ivan Bartolec

The ACM MMSys’21 conference held in Istanbul, Turkey, was an excellent opportunity to meet, interact, and discuss ideas with researchers who are working to develop new and engaging multimedia experiences. This was my first MMSys conference, and it was an excellent environment for both learning and networking, with a thoughtfully selected collection of presentations, engaging keynotes (especially the one from a representative of Facebook), and fun social events. I found the sessions based on video or video streaming to be the most interesting and informative for my field of study. The demo sessions concept was also pretty unique, and by being on-site and seeing the demos and asking questions, I learnt a few things about practical implementations that I find incredibly useful. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to present my PhD research as part of the Doctoral symposium and to receive feedback from conference attendees as well as offline comments and ideas via email, which I gladly responded to. It was an absolute pleasure to attend MMSys’21 on-site, courtesy of the Student Travel Grant, and I look forward to visiting future editions of the conference and continuing to interact with the MMSys community.

Jesus Aguilar Armijo

It has been a pleasure to attend MMSys’2021 in person. This would not have been possible without the SIGMM Student travel award.
At the conference, I had the opportunity to attend four keynotes, where I would like to highlight the keynote from Caitlin Kalinowski (Facebook). She presented in person and showed the Virtual Reality devices of her company and future projects with emerging technologies.
I found truly engaging the different sessions of MMSys as they were related to my work in network-assisted video streaming. For example, the NOSSDAV session named “Session #1: Yet Another Streaming Session” contained the paper “Common Media Client Data (CMCD): Initial Findings” which I found especially interesting as I use some features of this standard in my work. Moreover, the paper entitled: “Beyond throughput, the next generation: a 5G dataset with channel and context metrics” (from MMSys’20 but presented in MMSys’21) in the open dataset session was particularly interesting for me as I use their previous dataset with 4G as a radio traces for my last paper.
During the conference, I had the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with different researchers, which I found valuable and insightful. I would also like to highlight the good organization of the conference and the social events.
Finally, I presented my work in the Doctoral Symposium session, and I received some interesting questions from the audience. It was a great opportunity, and I am grateful to SIGMM, which allowed me to participate in this extraordinary experience.

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