About the Student Research Competition

The ACM Student Research Competition (SRC), sponsored by Microsoft, offers a unique forum for undergraduate and graduate students to present their original research before a panel of judges and attendees at well-known ACM-sponsored and co-sponsored conferences.

Recognizing the value of student participation at conferences, ACM started the program in 2003, but it is much more than just a travel funding program. The ACM SRC provides participants a chance to meet other students and to get direct feedback on their work from experts.

This year's competitions took place at 26 participating ACM SIG conferences, sponsored by SIGACCESS, SIGARCH, SIGCHI, SIGCOMM, SIGCSE, SIGDA,SIGDOC, SIGGRAPH, SIGHPC,  SIGMICRO, SIGMOBILE, SIGMOD, SIGOPS, SIGPLAN,  SIGSOFT and SIGSPATIAL as well as Grace Hoppper and TAPIA and included more than 360 student participants.

The program is administered by Nanette Hernandez at ACM, Dr. Laurie Ann Williams at North Carolina State University, Douglas Baldwin at SUNY Geneseo and Dr. Evelyne Viegas at Microsoft, Redmond, WA.

2019 SRC Grand Finals Winners

Gengjie Chen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Christie Louis Alappat,  University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Scott Kolodziej, Texas A&M Unversity, Zhuangzhuang Zhou, Shanghai Jiao Tong University,  Fandel Lin, National Chen Kung University and Elizaveta Tremsina, Univerisity of California-Berkley were the 2019 Grand Finals winners of ACM’s Student Research Competition. The SRC Grand Finals are the culmination of a year-long competition that involved more than 360 computer science students presenting research projects at 26 major ACM conferences.
[News release]

Students can gain many tangible and intangible rewards from participating in one of ACM’s Student Research Competitions. With a generous sponsorship of $120,000 per competition year from Microsoft, the ACM Student Research Competition is an internationally recognized venue enabling undergraduate and graduate students to earn:

  • Awards: cash prizes, medals, and ACM student memberships
  • Prestige: Grand Finalists and their advisors are invited to the Annual ACM Awards Banquet, where they are recognized for their accomplishments
  • Visibility: opportunities to meet with researchers in their field of interest and make important connections
  • Experience: opportunities to sharpen communication, visual, organizational, and presentation skills in preparation for the SRC experience

Graduate Category: First Place

Genjie Chen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
"VLSI Routing: Seeing Nano Tree in Giga Forest" (ICCAD 2018)

We are using nanometer-size transistors and Giga Hertz clock frequency in very large scale integration (VLSI). Under such extreme conditions, timing, power, manufacturability and reliability are all crucial issues in VLSI design. For example, 50% – 80% of gates in the high-performance integrated circuit (IC) today are repeaters, which do not perform useful computation but work for timing closure [40]; over 50% of the chip at around 7nm will be powered off and cannot be utilized due to the power constraint [26]. .... [Read more]

Graduate Category: Second Place

Christie Alappat, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
"RACE - Recursive Algebraic Coloring Engine" (SC 2018)


Sparse linear algebra is a key component in many scientific simulations ranging from quantum physics to fluid and structural
mechanics. However, iterative numerical methods and important building blocks of sparse linear algebra frequently
feature strong data dependencies, making them difficult to parallelize. Typically, loop-carried dependencies occur in
iterative solvers (e.g., Kaczmarz, Gauss-Seidel) or preconditioners and write conflicts show up in the parallelization
of building blocks such as symmetric sparse matrix-vector multiplication. Scalable, hardware-efficient parallelization of
such methods and kernels is known to be a challenge... [Read more]

Graduate Category: Third place

Scott Kolodziej, Texas A&M University
"Empirical Assessment of Software Documentation Strategies: A Randomized Controlled Trial" (SIGCSE 2019)

Source code documentation is an important part of teaching students how to be effective programmers. But what evidence do we
have to support what good documentation looks like? This study utilizes a randomized controlled trial to experimentally compare
several different types of documentation, including traditional comments, self-documenting naming, and an automatic documentation
generator. The results of this experiment show that the relationship between documentation and source code understanding is more
complex than simply "more is better," and poorly documented code may even lead to a more correct understanding of the source code... [Read more]

Undergraduate Category: First Place

Zhuangzhuang Zhou, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
"DALS: Delay-driven Approximate Logic Synthesis" (ICCAD 2018)

As modern VLSI designs encompass more complexity and transistortechnology reaches nanoscale, it has been increasingly difficult to improve the performance and energy consumption of circuits by conventional design methods [18]. On the other hand, many recent applications, including image rendering, signal processing, speech recognition and machine learning, are error tolerant by their nature. Their error tolerance is caused by various reasons. For example, some of them are resilient to input noises. Some of them have outputs intended for human perception and can tolerate errors imperceptible to users. Others do not offer a unique answer and a variety of answers are acceptable. These classes of applications can tolerate inexact computation in substantial portions of their execution [3]. Under this circumstance, approximate computing was proposed as a novel circuit design paradigm [4].... Read more

Undergraduate Category: 2nd Place

Fandel Lin, National Cheng Kung University
"An Intelligent and Interactive Route Planning Maker for Deploying New Transportation Services" (SIGSPATIAL 2018)

Planning Maker (RPM) is proposed to help governments or transportation companies to plan new route services in the city. The function of RPM is four-fold. First, RPM illustrates the local characteristics (e.g. geo-graphical information or spatial-temporal urban informatics) by visualizing multiple aspects of the city for users to easily understand the local characteristics of anywhere in the city, which is beneficial for proposing new routes. Second, RPM has a flexible user interface that allows users to arbitrarily sketch/adjust their idea by adding/removing routes and stations when deploying new routes. Besides, RPM can also show the existing routes which are correlated with the new route to let users check their transference or overlapping regions. Third, RPM provides an intelligent function to estimate passenger flows (PF) in certain time intervals and acquire relevant urban information so that the user can estimate the effectiveness of designed routes... [Read more]

Undergraduate Category: Third Place

Elizaveta Tremsina, UC Berkeley
"Your Story Recorded in a Magnet: Micromagnetic Simulations of Spin-Orbit Torque in Multi-layer Structures" (TAPIA 2018)

The aim of this work is to address one of the challenges in computing: the need for novel energyefficient non-volatile memory devices which have the potential of drastically reducing power consumption
by computers, mobile, wearable and embedded electronics. Such memory devices would require zero power to maintain their state and have the ability to start up processes instantaneously. In this
micromagnetic simulation study, we demonstrate switching (write-operation) of a magnetic memory unit with Spin-Orbit Torque, not requiring external magnetic field. We propose a novel multi-layer
stack which is comprised of a Synthetic Antiferromagnet (SAF) and an antiferromagnetic underlayer (AFM). Efficient field-free magnetization reversal is propelled by the competing exchange fields and
spin torques. In addition, we perform an optimization analysis of the parameter space required for deterministic switching. Our simulation results provide a promising approach for developing efficient
and stable switching schemes and designing actual devices for future spintronic applications.... [Read more]