This is the 2020 update of the System Security Circus.

TLDR - Main Takeaways
  • The dataset now contains 126 venues and 5675 papers written by 9585 unique authors from 1198 affiliations located in 62 different countries.

  • Despite the pandemic and the fact that all conferences went virtual in 2020, there was no impact in the number of submissions, which kept increasing exponentially.
    It this continue, expect 3441 submissions in 2021 (13% more than this year!).

  • Despite the increase in the PC sizes, the number of researchers reviewing for all Top4 doubled since last year.

  • China continues to grow and surpassed Germany to become the second country (after US of course) for number of papers.


The number of submissions to the Top4 is still sitting nicely on the exponential curve. Overall, in 2020 the Top4 received 6.5% more submissions than in 2019, but (maybe thanks to the virtual online settings) were also able to accept 8% more papers.

./submission_tot.png ./acceptance_rate.png

Last year I predicted a total of 3093 submissions in 2020. The actual number was 3039 (not bad eh?)

In the second tier (I know I promised to include a third conference but 2020 was a crazy year) the increase was even larger, with a +21% in the number of submissions!

./tier2_submission_tot.png ./tier2_acceptance_rate.png

Program Committees

./committees.png ./tpc_overlap.png

PCs got larger in 2020 and even serving in all committees became more common (8 people did that in 2020 vs 4 in 2019).

Authors & Affiliations

The number of new authors and the number of new affiliations that are observed for the first time each year are plotted below.
I used these graphs in the past to show that the community is growing.

./new_auth.png ./new_affl.png

If we count the Top4 papers in which all the authors never published in the Top4 before we get the really new entries in the community (while the others could simply be new students of an established professor). Sadly, this is down to 5% this year.

./new_all_authors.png ./max_papers_per_person.png

It is interesting how stable the values are over the past ten years. Basically, each year between 88% and 95% of the papers have at least one previously known author, and between 15% and 22% have only previously known authors.

Authors per Paper

./avg_authors_x_paper.png ./max_authors_x_paper.png

This year we have again a new record for the number of co-authors in a paper: "Cornucopia: Temporal Safety for CHERI Heaps" with 24 co-authors (the previous record was from last year with 20).
The average remains stable at just below 5 authors per paper.

Collaborations among Countries

./single_affl.png ./single_country.png

Both the percentage of single-affiliation and of single-country papers are diving and in 2020 almost half of the papers are the result of an international collaboration.

./us_decline.png ./new_countries.png

US-based researchers are still involved in the vast majority of the papers, but they are not anymore the sole driving force. Several other countries are rapidly raising - with China that this year toke second place by surpassing Germany.

  • The Authors table with stats from all conferences, and that dedicated to the Top4 conferences only

  • The affiliations table (world-wide, EU-only, US-only, and rest of the world).
    Detailed info for each institution is also available by clicking their names in the tables.

  • You can also check the previous versions of the Security Circus for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and the original post in 2015.

(major version changes when I add new stats or new venues, minor if stats are modified, build number keeps track of typos and spellings mistakes)