ACM SIGCOMM 2021, virtually (online)

ACM SIGCOMM 2021 Workshop on Optical Systems (OptSys’2021)

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Workshop program

  • Monday, August 23, 2021 ET

  • 10:00 - 10:10 am ET      Opening

  • 10:00 - 10:10 am ET

    Opening Remarks

    Speaker: Paolo Costa

  • 10:10 am - 11:05 am ET      Session 1: Devices

    Session chair: Stefan Schmid
  • Devices for next-gen silicon photonics applications (Invited talk)

    Ashkan Seyedi (NVDIA)
    Abstract – Commercial deployment of optical interconnects has benefited significantly from the advances in silicon photonics and on-chip integration of various components, active and otherwise. As the technology continues to mature and evolve, many foundries work to improve their process flow to improve device performance and yield. Therefore, photonics device designers are slowly beginning to look ahead to revolutionary devices and circuits to continue not only improve interconnect performance but also to enable novel functions and capabilities. In this talk, I will share my thoughts on where the research and industry community should head to leverage existing silicon photonics design, fabrication and assembly capabilities to solve new problems.
    Bio - Ashkan Seyedi received a dual bachelor's in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Ph.D. from University of Southern California working on photonic crystal devices, high-speed nanowire photodetectors, efficient white LEDs, and solar cells. With over ten years of industry experience, Dr. Seyedi has been working on developing high-bandwidth, efficient optical interconnects for GPUs, CPUs and Exascale high-performance computing systems.

  • IOI: In-network Optical Inference

    Z. Zhong, W. Wang, M. Ghobadi, A. Sludds, R. Hamerly, L. Bernstein, D. Englund.

  • Internet Photonic Sensing: Using the Internet Optical Transport Signals for Vibration and Deformation Sensing

    S. Patnaik, P. Barford, D. Fratta, B. Jensen, N. Lord, M. Malloy, H. Wang.

  • 11:05 - 11:15 am ET Coffee/Tea break

  • 11:15 am - 12:10 pm ET      Session 2: Network Architecture

    Session chair: Chen Avin
  • The Evolving Role of Optics for Datacenter Network and Machine Learning (Invited talk)

    Hong Liu (Google)
    Abstract – The optical layer has evolved and expanded rapidly to significantly shape and differentiate compute infrastructure. To support the staggering growth of bandwidth for networking and machine learning, optical technology remains as the critical driver. We will present an overview and future roadmap of data center optics, including the need and challenge with tighter integration of optics and electronics.
    Bio - Hong Liu is a Distinguished Engineer at Google Technical Infrastructure, where she is involved in the system architecture and optical solutions for a large-scale computing platform. Prior to joining Google, Hong was a Member of Technical Staff at Juniper Networks. Hong received her PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and is an OSA Fellow.

  • Towards All-optical Circuit-switched Datacenter Network Cores: The Case for Mitigating Traffic Skewness at the Edge

    S. Das, W. Wang, T. Ng.

  • Reconfigurable Optical Datacom Networks by Self-supervised Learning

    C. Liu, X. Chen, R. Proietti, Z. Li, S. Yoo.

  • 12:10 - 12:20 pm ET Coffee/Tea break

  • 12:20 - 1:40 pm ET      Session 3: Network Programmability and Novel Platforms

    Session chair: George Porter
  • Programmable Datacenter Optical Networks (Invited talk)

    Chongjin Xie (Alibaba)
    Abstract – Lots of efforts have been put on programmability in data center optical networks to improve network manageability, efficiency and performance. We describe recent progress in this field, including practices on openness and disaggregation, zero touching and automation, and discuss how programmable datacenter optical networks may evolve with data analytics in the future.
    Bio - Chongjin Xie is a senior director at Alibaba Cloud, leading an optical network team working on datacenter optical interconnects and transport networks. Prior to joining Alibaba in 2014, Dr. Xie was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent, doing research on optical communication systems and networks. He was a post-doctor at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden from 1999 to 2001, and received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Dr. Xie has published one book, 5 book chapters and over 200 papers. He is a Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of OSA.

  • Are WANs Ready for Optical Topology Programming?

    M. Hall, P. Barford, K. Foerster, M. Ghobadi, W. Jensen, R. Durairajan.

  • Abstractions for Reconfigurable Hybrid Network Update and A Consistent Update Approach

    W. Wang, S. Das, T. Ng.

  • Corundum: A programmable optical-ready NIC platform (Invited talk)

    Alex Forencich (UC San Diego)

  • Co-packaged Optics in the Data Center (Invited talk)

    Rob Stone (Facebook)
    Abstract – Growing demand for network bandwidth in the data center driven by new applications such as ML and AI demands continued upgrades to higher lane speeds. However subsequent higher bandwidth generations of equipment are accompanied by increased power dissipation which is problematic to accommodate within a fixed building infrastructure. One partial mitigation of the higher power demand of networking equipment is to improve the efficiency of the IO via use of co-packaged optics.
    Bio - Rob Stone currently holds the role of Technical Sourcing Manager at Facebook, focusing on next generation high speed interconnects. Prior to Facebook, Rob was a distinguished engineer at Broadcom within the switch architecture team, where he was responsible for switch IO ecosystem and system design, actively representing Broadcom in a number of industry groups including IEEE as well as MSA and industry organizations. He has over 20 years of industry experience bringing communications technologies to market. Rob holds a D.Phil. in Physics from The University of Oxford.

  • 1:40 - 1:50 pm ET Coffee/Tea break

  • 1:50 - 2:40 pm ET      Industrial Panel

  • 1:50 - 2:40 pm ET

    Panel chair: Manya Ghobadi

         Ashkan Seyedi (NVDIA)
         Chongjin Xie (Alibaba)
         Hong Liu (Google)
         Rob Stone (Facebook)

Call for Papers

Optical technology is a fundamental building block of modern systems. Today, nearly all wide-area, metro, and data center communications are carried over optical technology making optics a billion-dollar industry. With the rise of Machine Learning, optics is poised to play an even bigger role from the interconnect all the way to emerging optical compute hardware. With the slowdown of Moore’s law, the high bandwidth and ultra-low latency requirements of modern applications, such as machine learning and data analytics, are hard to meet in a cost-effective manner with traditional electrical devices.

The OptSys workshop focuses on the design and implementation of optical systems for the next-generation workloads. These systems pose a number of research challenges spanning multiple research areas, e.g., optical hardware, scheduling, synchronization, congestion control, and topology reconfiguration, which require cross-layer and cross-disciplinary solutions. Addressing these challenges requires the collaboration of cross-disciplinary teams and joint co-design across the stack.

The workshop aims to bring together participants from the optics, networking, machine learning, and distributed systems communities to jointly tackle these challenges and foster discussions and collaboration opportunities.

Following the successful experience from OptSys'2020 and OptSys'2019, the workshop will feature a combination of accepted talks and keynote speakers, selected among the community top academics and researchers, with an emphasis on encouraging engaging technical discussions amongst the participants.

Unlike prior years, we are glad to announce that papers accepted by the workshop will be published in the conference proceedings published by ACM SIGCOMM.

Topics of Interest

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
  • Cross-layer optimization problems
  • Systems design leveraging recent advances in Optical technology
  • Optical designs leveraging recent advances in Systems and Cloud
  • Novel optical network architectures
  • Emerging optical computing technologies
  • Optics for Machine Learning and Machine Learning for Optics
  • Emerging optical technologies impacting the design of rack-scale, data-center, metro, and wide-area networks
  • New congestion control and network stacks for optical networks
  • Scheduling and time synchronization algorithms for microsecond/nanosecond Optical Circuit Switches
  • Programming abstractions for orchestration between the SDN/IP layer and optical devices
  • Reconfigurable optical topologies
  • Analysis and experience with operational optical networks
  • Models, algorithms, and theory for optical networks
  • Economic and cost aspects of optical networks
  • Monitoring and diagnosis of performance issues across layers
  • Free-space optical interconnects

Submission Instructions

Submissions must be original, unpublished work, and not under consideration at another conference or journal. LaTeX sources can be found at this link. With older versions of this template, authors should use "10pt" in the documentclass command to ensure that the font size for all submitted papers is 10 points. The length of the submitted paper should be at most 4 pages, excluding references. Authors are welcome to include an appendix beyond the page limit, but the main paper should be self-contained. We also encourage demos for which a two-page extended abstract must be submitted in the same format as the workshop papers. Papers and extended abstracts must include author names and affiliations for single-blind peer reviewing by the PC. Authors of accepted submissions are expected to present and discuss their work at the workshop. We encourage both "work-in-progress" and “vision” papers that benefit from the interactive nature of OptSys and can stimulate reflection and discussion. Papers accepted by the workshop will be published in the conference proceedings published by ACM SIGCOMM. Authors of published papers at OptSys could choose to extend their work to full-length conference papers later.

Please submit your paper via


Attendance of the workshop is by open registration and subject to the same registration fees and rules as all the other SIGCOMM 2021 workshops. The registrants of the workshop may freely attend any workshop on the same day.

Important Dates

  • May 31, 2021

    Submission deadline

  • June 21 June 28, 2021

    Acceptance notification

  • July 2, 2021

    Camera-ready deadline

  • August 23, 2021

    Workshop day


  • Organizing Committee
  • Chen Avin

    Ben Gurion University, Israel

  • Paolo Costa

    Microsoft Research, UK

  • Manya Ghobadi

    MIT, USA

  • George Porter


  • Stefan Schmid

    University of Vienna, Austria

  • Program Committee
  • Vyas Sekar


  • Alex C. Snoeren


  • Zhizhen Zhong


  • T. S. Eugene Ng

    Rice U

  • Hongqiang “Harry” Liu

    Alibaba Group