Reposted AE report from USENIX OSDI Proceedings.
It is our pleasure to report on the artifact evaluation process conducted as part of OSDI’20. This year’s conference represents the first time that OSDI has included an artifact evaluation committee (AEC), and it immediately follows the inaugural year for artifact evaluation at SOSP.
The goal of artifact evaluation is to incentivize authors to invest in the broader scientific community by producing artifacts that illustrate their claims, enable others to validate those claims, and accelerate future scientific progress. A paper with artifacts that have passed the artifact evaluation process is recognized in two ways: first by badges that appear on the paper’s first page, and second by an appendix that details the artifacts.
In designing the artifact evaluation process for OSDI, we aimed to bridge the processes from earlier USENIX conferences (USENIX Security) and the prior effort from ACM SOSP. USENIX previously used a single-badge process, whereas SOSP used a system based on the ACM’s artifact review and badging policy. After deliberation, we decided on a three-badge approach to evaluation. This helps establish congruence between the processes for SOSP and OSDI, and the finer granularity of a multi-badge system encourages participation even when full artifacts cannot be shared or specific results are too challenging for the committee to reproduce. The three badges that we used for OSDI are:
- Artifacts Available: Have the artifacts associated with the paper been made available for retrieval, permanently and publicly?
- Artifacts Functional: Do the artifacts conform to the expectations set by the paper in terms of functionality, usability, and relevance?
- Results Reproduced: Can the AEC use the submitted artifacts to obtain the main results presented in the paper?
The criteria for each badge are independent; for example, an artifact does not need to be deemed available or functional in order to be considered for the “Results Reproduced” badge. The third badge corresponds to the “Results Replicated” badge at SOSP’19 but differs in name. The OSDI badge name matches terminology recommended by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO).
To form the artifact evaluation committee, we issued an open invitation to the systems community for self-nominations. From the self-nominations, we selected 40 early-career researchers and graduate students, based on their levels of expertise.
After the decisions for OSDI’20 paper submissions were distributed, the authors of accepted papers were invited to submit artifacts for evaluation. (Thus, the artifact evaluation process had no effect on which papers were chosen to appear at OSDI.) Authors had one and a half weeks, until August 28, to respond to the call for artifacts. At artifact-submission time, authors were required to choose the badges for which their submission would be considered. The overwhelming majority of submissions applied for all three badges. Each artifact was accompanied by the accepted version of its associated paper so that the AEC could evaluate each artifact against its paper’s claims.
A total of 49 artifacts were submitted for evaluation. The AEC members bid on artifacts, and we assigned two or three reviewers for each submission: three if the submission applied for the “Results Reproduced” badge, and two otherwise. After bidding, the AEC had five weeks, until October 9, to make judgments.
Evaluation started with an attempt to build the artifact (where appropriate). Next, AEC members tried to repeat some or all of the experiments described in the artifact’s paper. AEC members were cognizant that it would be difficult to reproduce certain reported results, e.g., due to environmental or time limits. Reviewers were able to communicate with authors and regularly did so for clarifications and for help in debugging issues, with HotCRP preserving single-blind reviewing. Along the way, AEC members assessed each artifact’s completeness, documentation, and apparent ease of reuse. After all reviews were submitted, the AEC held an online discussion to decide, for each artifact, if it met, exceeded, or fell below the expectations set by its paper.
Overall, the process generated 133 reviews and 1,180 comments with an average of about 3,000 words of combined review text and comments per artifact.
OSDI’20 accepted 70 papers; in comparison, SOSP’19 accepted 38. Correspondingly, we received a greater number of submitted artifacts: 49 versus 23. We also saw an increase in the fraction of papers that chose to participate: 70%, up from 61% at SOSP’19. We hope that this trend will continueb as artifact evaluation becomes a regular part of our community’s conferences.
Of the 49 submitted artifacts, the AEC found that 48 met or exceeded expectations for at least one of the three badges. Per the choices of the authors, not all artifacts were considered for all badges.
- 47 artifacts received the Artifacts Available badge (96%).
- 46 artifacts received the Artifacts Functional badge (94%).
- 39 artifacts received the Results Reproduced badge (80%).
The papers that describe these artifacts can be easily recognized by the USENIX artifact evaluation badges that appear on their initial pages.
Cloud Resources: Increasingly, systems papers present experimental results that depend on large-scale pools of resources for reproduction. Based on feedback from the SOSP’19 efforts, we sought out resources to evaluate these types of artifacts, and Microsoft generously donated resource credits for running artifacts on Azure to help with this issue. Unfortunately, these resources were hard to leverage for the artifacts for which they would have been most useful. Several artifacts relied on access to high-end GPU resources: allocating these resources in Azure requires special approval and quota increases, which we were not able to secure. In some cases, the authors of these artifacts were able to provide reviewers with access to pre-existing resources that the AEC could use for reproduction. In the future, it may make sense to secure quotas for the use of specialized resources (specific GPUs, for example) before the start of the artifact evaluation process, based on types of resources required in the set of accepted papers.
Single vs. multiple badges: Of the 48 papers that received badges, 11 papers received a subset of the three available badges. We believe this is a strong outcome in favor of the multi-badge badge process we used. If we had opted to use a single badge that encompassed all of our evaluation criteria, it is likely that fewer papers would have received that badge, and consequently, fewer high-quality systems artifacts would have been recognized and documented.
We thank the authors of the 49 submitted artifacts for their hard work in creating these valuable accompaniments to their papers. We also thank the 40 AEC members, who collectively spent hundreds of hours evaluating and discussing these artifacts. Finally, we thank Microsoft for their generous support of the AEC through Microsoft Azure credits. Our hope is that the AEC effort has strengthened the work of the authors who participated, and that it will help facilitate work that builds on the papers that appear in the OSDI’20 proceedings.
The full results and badging for OSDI’20, as well as reports from other artifact evaluation processes within the systems community, can be found online at sysartifacts.github.io.
The OSDI’20 AEC Chairs