SIGMOBILE Test-of-Time Awards

The SIGMOBILE Test-of-Time awards recognize papers that have had a sustained and significant impact in the SIGMOBILE community over at least a decade. The award recognizes that a paper's influence is often not fully apparent at the time of publication, and it can be best judged with the perspective of time. 

All papers published at least 10 years ago in a SIGMOBILE venue are eligible for this award. In addition, papers published at least 10 years ago in other venues are also eligible if they have had an exceptional influence on the SIGMOBILE community.

2018 ACM SIGMOBILE Test-of-Time Paper Awardees

  • 2001

    Pervasive Computing: Vision and Challenges

    Mahadev Satyanarayanan

    The paper connects the vision of pervasive computing to distributed systems and mobile computing as we knew them then, then draws fundamental observations of what system components still needed to be developed and how. The paper is a travel in time. What we call today the “Internet of Things” was already described here, along with many other fundamental concepts such as edge computing, cloud offloading, energy-driven adaptation, thick and thin clients. As an eminent example of abstract thinking, the author revealed the essence of each and every research challenge independent of the technology available back then.

  • 1999

    Ad-hoc On-Demand Distance Vector Routing

    Charles E. Perkins and Elizabeth M. Royer

    This paper presents AODV, perhaps the most influential ad hoc routing protocol to date. This algorithm proposes a novel and suitable solution for the operation of these dynamic and unstable networks. Its major impact on the industry and related standards demonstrate the practical importance of this work. Additionally, the protocol is a “must-teach” in academic curricula related to mobile networking.

  • 2002

    Wake on Wireless: An Event Driven Energy Saving Strategy for Battery Operated Devices

    Eugene Shih, Paramvir Bahl and Michael J. Sinclair

    This paper pioneered the systematic use of low- and high-power radios in a battery-constrained device, by separating data and control channels, to minimize overall energy consumption. The approach is now used commonly in today’s mobile devices. Additionally, the rigorous experimental approach had a significant impact on the research methodology in mobile computing community. 

  • 1998

    Modeling TCP throughput: A simple model and its empirical validation

    Jitendra Padhye, Victor Firoiu, Don Towsley and Jim Kurose

    The TCP model presented in this work is arguably the one that  significantly influenced the SIGMOBILE community. Not only elegantly simple but also capable of accurately predicting TCP’s throughput over a very wide range of loss rates. After two decades, it is still taught in several networking classes, and often used as a starting point for related modeling research.

  • 2000

    Network Information Flow

    Rudolf Ahlswede, Ning Cai,  Shuo-Yen Robert Li and Raymond W. Yeung

    This is the seminal work on network coding that had a profound impact on the networking and mobile systems communities. The information theoretic analysis led to significant academic work for more than a decade in the networking community on leveraging network coding to build systems that achieve higher reliability and throughput. 

  • 2006

    CarTel: A Distributed Mobile Sensor Computing System

    Bret Hull, Vladimir Bychkovsky, Yang Zhang, Kevin Chen, Michel Goraczko, Allen K. Miu, Eugene Shih, Hari Balakrishnan and Samuel Madden

    This seminal paper proposed to leverage commodity sensing units on on-the-road vehicles to revolutionize the monitoring of road traffic and road hazard/surface for improving road safety. In addition to significant academic impact, the paper also generated real-world impact with the proposed concept being widely adopted in popular map applications. Additionally, the network stack designs to tolerate intermittent connectivity also had an impact on delay-tolerant mobile networking, including those targeting remote inaccessible regions.

Past Awardees

  • 2000

    Performance Analysis of the IEEE 802.11 Distributed Coordination Function

    Giuseppe Bianchi

    This paper pioneered a new technique for throughput modeling of 802.11, which balanced tractability and accuracy, and which continues to be taught and used extensively in the study of WiFi protocols and its variants.

  • 2000

    The Cricket Location-Support System

    Nissanka Priyantha, Anit Chakraborty, Hari Balakrishnan

    Cricket was one of the early systems to demonstrate a complete, end-to-end solution for indoor localization, combining both ultrasound and wireless sensing in a decentralized and privacy-compliant architecture. It is an excellent example of a mobile systems paper done right and has led to the technology being commercialized in the form of Cricket motes, which have been used by other teams in real-world deployments, including in hospital and shop floor settings.

  • 2000

    Sensing Techniques for Mobile Interaction

    Ken Hinckley, Jeff Pierce, Mike Sinclair, Eric Horvitz

    This paper showed how combinations of simple sensors could be used to create rich mobile interactions that are now commonplace in mobile devices today. It also opened up people's imaginations about how we could interact with mobile devices in the future, inspiring a wide range of research on sensor-based interaction techniques.

  • 2002

    Analysis of a Campus-wide Wireless Network

    David Kotz and Kobby Essien

    This paper was the first to systematically demonstrate how to measure and understand a production-scale wireless network, which was previously considered an impenetrable black box. This led to an incredible amount of follow-on work, with the measurement methods and analysis mechanisms proposed in this paper still being used. This paper was also the spark for the creation of the CRAWDAD data repository, which has been of immense value to the wireless research community.

  • 2002

    Energy-Efficient Computing for Wildlife Tracking: Design Tradeoffs and Early Experiences with ZebraNet

    Philo Juang, Hidekazu Oki, Yong Wang, Margaret Martonosi, Li-Shiuan Peh, Daniel Rubenstein

    ZebraNet was one of the first deployments of mobile sensors in the wild -- quite literally. This paper set the standard for application-driven mobile systems research, showing how to close the interdisciplinary loop between computer science and non-CS domains. The peer-to-peer data exchange developed by ZebraNet has also had lasting impact in many other areas, including vehicular networking.

  • 2005

    Architecture and evaluation of an unplanned 802.11 b mesh network

    Bicket, John, Daniel Aguayo, Sanjit Biswas, and Robert Morris

    This paper made a number of key contributions to multi-hop mesh networks. It presents the architecture and extensive evaluation of Roofnet, a mesh network built out of unplanned deployment of wireless nodes. The work inspired a closer look at mesh networks, an architecture which is well suited for many practical deployments. The scale and operational lifetime of the network deployment provides important insights for the field.

  • 2005

    Place lab: Device positioning using radio beacons in the wild

    Anthony LaMarca, Yatin Chawathe, Sunny Consolvo, Jeffrey Hightower, Ian Smith, James Scott, Timothy Sohn, James Howard, Jeff Hughes, Fred Potter, Jason Tabert, Pauline Powledge, Gaetano Borriello, Bill Schilit

    Place Lab was a seminal effort to achieve accurate localization of mobile devices using existing infrastructure. It showed through painstaking experiments that leveraging a combination of Wi-Fi and GSM beacons enabled positioning with 20-30 meter median accuracy and close to 100% coverage throughout a major metropolitan area. The work directly informed localization techniques that have come to be used in billions of mobile devices.

  • 2004

    Versatile low power media access for wireless sensor networks

    Joseph Polastre, Jason Hill, and David Culler

    The Berkeley MAC (B-MAC) was a pioneering contribution to media access control in TinyOS-based wireless sensor networks.  B-MAC and its underlying low-power listening principle became a facto standard in sensor networks. It plays a lasting role in the development of new low power wireless technologies such as IoTs.

  • 2000

    The capacity of wireless networks

    Piyush Gupta and Panganmala R. Kumar

    This seminal wireless modeling paper made a key contribution to the analysis of large scale wireless networks with a framework to analyze the system and per-node throughput as the system scales. The analysis framework has become a standard tool for analysis of large system performance, and spawned numerous analytical results in wireless networks.

  • 2000

    RADAR: An in-building RF-based user location and tracking system

    Paramvir Bahl and Venkata N. Padmanabhan

    RADAR was a pioneering system for locating and tracking mobile devices using wireless LAN technology. It anticipated not only the Wi-Fi-based indoor localization solutions widely used by our mobile devices today, but also the growing interest in exploiting wireless infrastructure for goals beyond communications

  • 1995

    I-TCP: Indirect TCP for mobile hosts

    Ajay Bakre and B. R. Badrinath

    I-TCP makes the fundamental observation that performance in a mobile network could be greatly improved if the congestion control loop of the end-to-end path was broken into one catering to the wireless part and another catering to its wired counterpart. This visionary and unorthodox principle is commonly found in todays cellular data deployments.

  • 1992

    Disconnected operation in the Coda File System

    James J. Kistler and Mahadev Satyanarayanan

    The Coda file system remains influential today as did in 1990s when it first appeared. Coda first recognized that the future mobile devices and their file systems should be designed to operate in disconnected environments. Coda treated disconnection as a mode of operation rather than failure. Examples of its impact are all around us from Google Drive to Dropbox.

  • 1992

    The active badge location system

    Roy Want, Andy Hopper, Veronica Falcao, and Jonathan Gibbons

    The Active Badge system was the first indoor location-based system, that has spawned two decades of work in indoor localization. Not only was the paper incredibly influential from a systems perspective, it also led to significant work on applications and privacy throughout the mobile systems community.

  • 1991

    The computer for the 21st century

    Mark Weiser

    This truly visionary paper by Mark Weiser created the field of ubiquitous computing and has inspired generations of researchers.  It introduced the world to the ubicomp devices from Xerox PARC: ParcTab, Pad, and LiveBoard, and laid out a series of technical hurdles that had to be overcome in order to realize the vision of ubicomp.

  • 1975

    Packet switching in radio channels: Part I — carrier sense multiple-access modes and their throughput-delay characteristics

    Leonard Kleinrock and Fouad A. Tobagi

    A pioneering contribution to the early days of wireless packet networks that is on the reading list of any student interested in the foundation of media access control in packet radio networks. This paper makes a fundamental contribution to the development of carrier sense multiple access (CSMA) that underpins the wireless edge today.

  • 1970

    THE ALOHA SYSTEM: another alternative for computer communications

    Norman Abramson

    ALOHAnet was a pioneering wireless data network deployed across the Hawaiian Islands. It laid the foundations for network technologies that are still dominant decades later, in particular Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Among other contributions, its random-access radio technology remains a hugely influential development in medium access control for wireless networks.

Selection Committee

The current SIGMOBILE Executive Committee shall appoint a chair of the selection committee for the award. The chair, in consultation with the Executive Committee, will appoint additional members to the committee. The committee will comprise of at least three members. Committee members will typically be invited from among the Technical Program Committee (TPC) Chairs of major SIGMOBILE conferences of the current year as well as from major SIGMOBILE conferences held ten years back. In addition, other established members of the SIGMOBILE community can also be invited to be part of the committee. For the sake of continuity, we will strive to retain at least one member of the selection committee in the next year. Finally, members may serve in the committee for up to three consecutive years. 

Proposed Procedure

All papers published in a SIGMOBILE-sponsored conference are automatically eligible for the award. In addition, exceptional papers that were published outside SIGMOBILE sponsored venues can also be considered through this nomination process. In each case, the papers in consideration have to be published at least ten years prior to the year in which they are being considered for the award. 

A paper that appeared in SIGMOBILE sponsored venues can be nominated by any individual by submitting a nomination letter outlining the significance of the work and reasons why the paper deserves the award. The selection committee for the award is encouraged to seek the opinion of the TPC chairs of the SIGMOBILE-sponsored conferences from ten years ago as well as the TPC chairs from the current year in seeking good nomination candidates. 

Any other paper, not included through the above process, can be nominated by any individual, by submitting a nomination letter and two additional letters of support (not from authors), outlining the significance of the work and reasons why the paper deserves the award. 

The selection committee has the prerogative to make no award, as well as to make multiple awards in each year. The awards should reflect the breadth of work of the entire SIGMOBILE community and as such the selection committee is encouraged to make multiple awards to reflect this. 

Because SIGMOBILE sponsored conferences have been ongoing for more than ten years, it is expected that in the first ten years of this award, additional awards will be given to catch up (i.e., in the initial years from 2 to 4 awards would be given and after that 1 to 2 awards would be presented). 


In a normal year, the nomination deadline will be January 15, and the awards will be decided by February 28. In the first year (2015), the deadlines will be slightly later.

  • For information on the 2019 award process, see here.