Third Workshop on Computing within Limits
June 22-24, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

About ACM LIMITS 2017

The ACM LIMITS workshop aims to foster discussion on the impact of present and future ecological, material, energetic, and societal limits on computing. These topics are seldom discussed in contemporary computing research. A key aim of the workshop is to promote innovative, concrete research, potentially of an interdisciplinary nature, that focuses on technologies, critiques, techniques, and contexts for computing within fundamental economic and ecological limits. A longer-term goal is to build a community around relevant topics and research. We hope to impact society through the design and development of computing systems in the abundant present for use in a future of limits.


Program Committee

Jay Chen, NYU,
Steve Easterbrook, University of Toronto,
Elina Eriksson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Bonnie Nardi, UC Irvine, (co-chair)
Lisa Nathan, UBC,
Teresa Cerratto Pargman, Stockholm University,
Daniel Pargman, KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Don Patterson, Westmont College,
Barath Raghavan, ICSI,
Debra Richardson, UC Irvine,
Douglas Schuler, Evergreen,
Bill Tomlinson, UC Irvine, (co-chair)
Ellen Zegura, Georgia Tech,

Steering Committee

Bonnie Nardi, UC Irvine
Barath Raghavan, ICSI
Michael Goldweber (ACM SIGCAS chair), Xavier

Call For Papers

LIMITS aims to foster research on the impact of present or future ecological, material, energetic, and/or societal limits on computing and computing research to respond to such limits. The medium-term aim of the workshop is to foster concrete research, potentially of an interdisciplinary nature, that innovates on technologies, techniques, and contexts for computing within fundamental limits. A longer-term goal is to build a community around relevant topics and research. A goal of this community is to impact society through the design and development of computing systems in the abundant present for use in a future of limits and/or scarcity.

We envision two broad categories of papers: "discussion papers" and "systems papers" (see below). Submissions do not need to strictly fit into either category. All papers should succinctly frame the limits that are of interest to the author(s).

Discussion papers explore the nature of limits and computing. Good discussion contributions will detail the nature of the limits of interest, describe their impact on computing, and present directions for future research. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Sustainability and computing
  • Re-evaluation of conventional computing premises (e.g. Moore's law)
  • Discussion of new limits and their implications for computing
  • Analysis of unnecessary computing
  • Analysis of greenwashing in computing
  • Ecological economics and/or biophysical economics and computing
  • Implications of limits for computing systems for health, education, agriculture, transportation, entertainment, commerce, etc.

Systems papers describe the design, implementation, and evaluation of computing systems that work within or help cope with limits. Also of interest are evaluations of systems that fail due to limits. Good systems contributions will address problems that meet present or future societal needs, describe clear limits and operational boundaries, and provide a detailed evaluation of the system in question. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Material- and manufacturing-constrained computing devices
  • Energy- and material-efficient computing and communication
  • Wide-area communication under constraints
  • Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design under constraints
  • Evaluation of limits to modern computing systems
  • Life-cycle analysis of computing systems under limits
  • Computer architecture for constrained computing
  • Systems for health, education, agriculture, transportation, entertainment, commerce, etc. under limits

Important Dates

Abstract registration deadline: March 1, 2017, 11:59pm Pacific Time
Paper submission deadline: March 11, 2017, 11:59pm Pacific Time
Paper reviews available: March 31, 2017


Submit papers at this site. (If you have any issues with the submission site, please email

Papers must be registered, with a title and abstract, by March 1, 2017 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Papers must be submitted in PDF format by March 11, 2017, 11:59pm Pacific Time.

Papers should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Papers should be in ACM double-column format, using the most recent template (updated in 2015)
  • The main body text should use 9pt Times or Times New Roman font.
  • The body of the paper should be a minimum of 5 pages and a maximum of 9 pages, with an unlimited number of pages allowed for references.

Reviewing will be non-blind; authors should include their names and contact information.

Program and Papers

All program sessions will be held in Winter 216 on the Westmont campus, unless specified otherwise below. All meals will be held in Founder’s Room, Dining Commons on the Westmont campus, unless specified otherwise below.

Wednesday, June 21

Time Activity
4:00 Room/Registrations Check-in outside Van Kampen Hall (Google maps link)
5:45 Dinner, meet at Van Kampen Hall at 5:45pm, walk to Founder’s Room, Dining Commons.

Thursday, June 22

Time Activity
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Welcome
9:15 Invited Talk
The Story of Toxic Chemicals in Computing Systems
Miriam Diamond (University of Toronto)
10:15 Break
10:30 Paper Session 1
The limits of the smart sustainable city
Tina Ringenson, Miriam Börjesson Rivera, Elina Eriksson (KTH)
Shelter Dynamics in Refugee and IDP Camps: Customization, Permanency, and Opportunities
Samar Sabie, Steve Easterbrook (University of Toronto), Jay Chen (NYU-AD), Fatma Hashim (Al-Mesalla Organization for Human Development), Harleen Kahlon (University of Toronto)
11:20 Break
11:40 Breakout session 1: Personal Stories
12:15 Lunch
1:30 Paper Session 2
Information Systems in a Future of Decreased and Redistributed Global Growth
Bill Tomlinson (UC Irvine), Benoit Aubert (Victoria University of Wellington)
Resource scarcity and just internet access over time and space
Daniel Pargman (KTH), Björn Wallsten (Linköping University)
2:20 Break
2:40 Paper Session 3
Better Not to Know?: The SHA1 Collision & the Limits of Polemic Computation
Nick Merrill (UC Berkeley)
Low On Air: Inherent Wireless Channel Capacity Limitations
Paul Schmitt, Elizabeth Belding (UC Santa Barbara)
3:30 Breakout session 2 (walk in Westmont garden): Topics based on sticky notes
4:00 Group introductions
5:00 Dinner break, details TBD

Friday, June 23

Time Activity
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Breakout session 3: Collaborations: grants, papers, projects.
10:00 Break
10:20 Paper Session 4
A Study of Hashtag Activism for Raising Awareness about Riverbank Erosion in Bangladesh
Maruf Hasan Zaber, Bonnie Nardi (UC Irvine), Jay Chen (NYU-AD)
Smallholder agriculture in the information age: Limits and opportunities
Mariya Zheleva, Petko Bogdanov, Daphney-Stravoula Zois, Wei Xiong (SUNY Albany), Ranveer Chandra (Microsoft Research), Mark Kimball (Essex Farm)
Further Connecting Sustainable Interaction Design with Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Design
Eli Blevis (Indiana University), Chris Preist, Daniel Schien (University of Bristol), Priscilla Ho (Hong Kong Polytechnic)
11:35 Breakout session 4 (walk): Topics based on sticky notes.
12:05 Lunch
1:30 Paper Session 5
The Limits of HCD: Reimagining the Anthropocentricity of ISO 9241-210
Vanessa Thomas (Lancaster University), Christian Remy (University of Zurich), Oliver Bates (Lancaster University)
Unplanned Obsolescence: Hardware and Software After Collapse
Esther Jang, Matthew Johnson (University of Washington), Edward Burnell (MIT), Kurtis Heimerl (University of Washington)
2:20 Breakout session 5: Next steps.
2:50 Paper Session 6
The Limits of Evaluating Sustainability
Christian Remy (University of Zurich), Oliver Bates, Vanessa Thomas (Lancaster University), Elaine May Huang (University of Zurich)
Developing a framework for evaluating the sustainability of computing projects
Anton Lundström, Daniel Pargman (KTH)
3:40 Break
4:00 Paper Session 7
Limits to Internet Freedoms
Michael Nekrasov (UC Santa Barbara), Lisa Parks (MIT), Elizabeth Belding (UC Santa Barbara)
Political Realities of Digital Communication: The Limits of Value from Digital Messages to Members of the US Congress
Samantha McDonald, Bonnie Nardi, Bill Tomlinson (UC Irvine)
4:50 Sum up.
5:00 Dinner

Saturday, June 24

Time Activity
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Working Sessions: 1) Planning for LIMITS 2018, 2) Projects
12:00 Departure
1:00 Final Checkout (Deliver keys to Donald Patterson)

Travel and Registration Overview

The workshop will be held on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, USA. There will be a registration fee of $150 non-students and $50 for students, with a $35 discount for members of ACM SIGCAS. The fee covers workshop registration, food, and lodging for the workshop. It does not cover transportation.

Please register for ACM LIMITS 2017 at this link.

Detailed Travel and Local Information

The main program begins at Westmont College on the morning of Thursday, June 22. Therefore, we suggest that you arrive in Santa Barbara sometime on Wednesday, June 21. Dinner at Westmont on the evening of June 21 is included as well (see below).

Travel options include:

  • Fly into LAX and take the airbus.
  • Fly into SBA and take a taxi or similar service.
  • Take the train to the Amtrak Santa Barbara station, and take a taxi, etc.
  • Drive to Santa Barbara. We will send parking information in a future email.

We have 25 dorm rooms where you can stay on campus at Westmont. These rooms are available at no charge to you (included in the registration fee). Some of these rooms are single-occupancy, and others are double-occupancy, and we believe all have shared bathrooms. We will do our best to accommodate your request with regard to single vs. double rooms and desired roommates; however, until we have a full response from likely attendees, we cannot guarantee particular accommodations. If you would like to stay in one of those rooms, please email Local Arrangements Chair Don Patterson by May 18, with any details about preferred roommates, etc. Directions about where to check in and other details will be made available to those staying in the dorms in the next few weeks.

You are of course welcome to stay in hotels in and around the Santa Barbara area instead (there are many; see here for a full listing). If you choose not to stay on campus, you will be responsible for covering the costs of your accommodations, as well as your transportation to and from Westmont each day.

All events will be held at Winter Hall. Meals at the Westmont Dining Commons will be included in your registration fee, from dinner on Wednesday night through breakfast on Saturday morning, except dinner on Thursday. There will likely be an optional group dinner outing on Thursday evening as well.

The workshop will run through noon on June 24. We have rooms reserved on campus for the nights of June 21, 22, and 23. If you wish to stay for the night of June 24, you will need to find alternate accommodations.

We also have some (limited) funds to offset some/all of the travel expenses for students and other attendees. If you would like to be considered for a travel grant, please email Bill Tomlinson by May 18, with a brief summary of your likely travel expenses, and a brief statement of need ("I am a graduate student without external funding", etc.). We will notify all applicants of the outcome shortly thereafter.

Information about registration will be made available in the next week or two.

We look forward to seeing you all in Santa Barbara! Please let us know if you have any other questions.