2017 ACM Europe Summer School: Data Science experience in Athens

The 1st ACM Europe Summer School on Data Science took place in Athens, Greece, from the 13th to the 19th of July 2017 at the premises of the Royal Olympic Hotel, right in the shadow of the Acropolis and next to the ruins of the imposing Temple of Zeus. The Summer School was jointly organized by ACM and ACM Europe, “Athena” Research & Innovation Center and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The vibrant and most promising data science community of Athens (especially of the two local organizing parties), paired with a rising data-driven business environment, was the main factor that led ACM Europe to select the capital of Greece as the first Summer School hosting city.

After a well-organized application and evaluation phase, sixty young computer science researchers and engineers from across Europe, young faculty, postdocs, PhD candidates and MSc students, arrived in Athens to attend an intense week of lectures, hands-on sessions and keynote talks from 9 distinguished scientists.The overall evaluation of the Summer School, based both on the views of participants, as expressed through a questionnaire-based survey, and informal discussions was very favorable. Location, venue, overall organization and scientific level were the aspects that were most highly appreciated.

The call for participation in the Summer School was launched on 27 May 2017 and closed on 8 June. Evaluation of applicants and selection of participants was done by 17 June and all registration procedures were concluded by 28 June. The call for participation resulted in 318 applications, however only 60 were selected to participate according to criteria set by the Program Committee. Interest for participation was recorded to be very high even after the deadline had expired. Participants had to cover only their travel and personal expenses; accommodation, lunches and material were covered by the School budget.

The Program Committee of the Summer School was responsible for the selection of lecturers and subjects, the set-up of the School structure and the evaluation of participants. The Committee was chaired by Yannis Ioannidis, Professor at the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications of the University of Athens, President and General Director of the “Athena” Research and Innovation Center. Members of the Committee were: Panagiota Fatourou, ACM-W, ACM-Europe Council, Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Crete; Fabrizio Gagliardi, Research Director at Polytechnic University of Catalonia; Wendy Hall, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton; Pat Ryan, ACM COO; Gerhard Schimpf, ACM Europe Council of European Chapter Leaders Chair; Bobby Schnabel, ACM CEO, Dean Emeritus of the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University; Joseph Sifakis, ACM Turing Award Winner, Emeritus Senior CNRS Researcher at Verimag, and Director of “Centre de la Recherche Intégrative” (CRI) in Grenoble.

Six subjects in Big Data and Data Science were selected to offer students the chance to develop skills and expertise, broaden their international experience and capitalize on this great knowledge opportunity. These topics were:

Talks by Professors Josef Sifakis (“On the Nature of Computing”) and Dame Wendy Hall (“Observatories and data analytics for Web Science”) provided high level views of the field by two of its long-standing leaders.

An interesting and stimulating complementary social program was organized to enrich the experience of the participants by taking advantage of the historical surroundings of the venue and the excellent experience offered by summertime Attica area. The program included a guided tour at the Acropolis Museum, a welcome reception and a closing beach party, and was crowned by a Sunday cruise on three nearby islands.