A quick interview with Open Source Software Competition’s organizers

Andrea Vedaldi is an Associate Professor in Engineering Science, Tutorial Fellow at New College, and member of the VGG group at the University of Oxford. His research interests include machine learning and invariant visual representations with applications to the classification and detection of object categories. He is one of the main authors of the VLFeat library.

Ioannis Patras conducts research in the area of Computer Vision and Pattern recognition with applications in Multimedia Analysis and Multimodal Human Computer Interaction. This includes low level analysis as well as learning from large datasets or from user interaction. He is particularly interested in the problems of Motion Analysis (including tracking and motion estimation), (semantic) Object Segmentation and (Human) Action Recognition (including face and gesture analysis). A recent line of activity involves multimodal human sensing for gesture-based gaming and for Brain Computer Interfaces.

Xian-Sheng Hua is now a Principle Research and Development Lead for Bing Multimedia Search with Microsoft. He is responsible for driving a team to design and deliver thought-leading media understanding and indexing features. Before joining Bing in 2011, Dr. Hua was a Lead Researcher with Microsoft Research Asia. During this time, his research interests are in the areas of multimedia search, advertising, understanding, and mining, as well as pattern recognition and machine learning. He has authored or co-authored more than 180 publications in these areas and has more than 60 filed patents or pending applications. He then joined Bing multimedia search.

Marco Bertini is working as an assistant professor at the Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione of the University of Florence, and he is teaching at the Master in Multimedia and at the School of Engineering. His research work is in the field of Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (He is a member of GIRPR), and he mostly works on automatic video analysis, annotation and semantic transcoding. He is affiliated with the Media Integration and Communication Center of the University of Florence.

Tao Mei is a Lead Researcher with Microsoft Research, Beijing, China. His current research interests include multimedia analysis and retrieval, and computer vision (video processing, analysis, and understanding). In particular, he is interested in applying the techniques from these areas to a broad range of multimedia applications, such as personal media, Web search, social and mobile multimedia applications. Tao has shipped his inventions and technologies to Microsoft products, such as Bing, Office, MSN, OneDrive, etc. He has authored or co-authored over 100 papers in journals and conferences, 10 book chapters, and edited three books. He holds over 13 U.S. granted patents and 20+ in pending.

The program of ACM Multimedia is very diverse: apart from oral and poster presentations, panels and keynotes there are challenges and competitions. One that is particularly interesting is the Open Source Software Competition, which is pretty much specific for this conference and was started in ACM Multimedia 2004. The full list of participants and winners (along with links to all the projects) can be found on the SIGMM web site: http://sigmm.org/Resources/software/ossc. This list shows that over the years this session has drawn a larger (and well deserved) attention from the community. We have asked the chairs of the ACM MM 2013 (Andrea Vedaldi & Ioannis Patras, answering as Org2013) and 2015 (Xian-Sheng Hua, Marco Bertini & Tao Mei, answering as Org2015) competition about their experience and opinions about the competition.

Q1: How hard was to get submissions to OSSC? Did you have to ask authors of software you knew or are they aware of this part of the ACM MM programme? Overall how many submissions did you receive?

Org2013: We did not have to ask any author directly. We only circulated an advertisement to three mailing lists, including a CV and ML one. The competition seems to be sufficiently well known that it is capable to attract submission with little effort.

Org2015: It was not that hard, we contacted some authors asking for submissions, but in the end the majority of submissions came from people who already knew the competition or from the call for paper we disseminated. We received 15 submissions, of which 9 were accepted. Decisions were taken considering the quality of the presentation and of the software itself, as well as the importance and utility for the multimedia community.

Q2: What’s your evaluation of the quality of submissions? Have you ever used software from past submissions?

Org2013: Half of the submission were of very high quality, both in scope and maturity of the projects. A few very very poor, at the level of master project at most. (Note: Andrea won the ACM MM’10 competition with his VLFeat library).

Org2015: Quality is quite high, we accepted works that were interesting and useful for the community and that were also mature enough to be used by members of the multimedia community. Marco Bertini: I already use some software of the submissions of this year, and I am using also software from past editions.

Q3: What’s your evaluation of OSSC per-se? Do you think other conferences should have something similar?

Org2013: It is a very good competition as it gives a chance to the authors of the software to obtain a publication and significant publicity (especially in the case of victory). It is also a great way to let the public know about solid OS projects. Having multiple competitions is tempting as contributions tend to be quite orthogonal (e.g. audio vs database vs networking vs imaging). At the same time, the number of contributions does not seem to warrant splitting the effort up.

Org2015: It is an interesting and useful track for ACM Multimedia. It has both scientific and technical value: It eases the development of new algorithms and methods, and allows to re-implement more easily the methods proposed by other researchers. The effort of the authors of such software deserve to be recognized by the scientific community. Probably other major conferences in different fields of CS should introduce this type of track.

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