A commenter complained:
I have noticed that most of the accepted papers in SODA/STOC/FOCS seem to be from one of the IVY league schools or from one of the established Labs...I'll address both these points in some detail, accompanying my comments with statistics provided by Adam Buchsbaum (SODA 2005 PC Chair). First, let's look at the complaint about author diversity:
Also, why in the world do we see the same set of names on program committees with little/no permutations.
1. Diversity of authors:
What follows is a frequency chart of affiliations for a random sample of 27 (20%) of the accepted papers at SODA 2005:
6 max plank inst.
4 u. illinois (u-c), tel aviv u.
3 u. bergen (norway), technion, hebrew u.
2 uc berkeley, u. waterloo, u. paris-sud, rutgers, ohio state u.
1 utrecht u., unsw (sydney), uc irvine, u. tokyo, u. leeds, u. glasgow, u. chicago, u. aarhus, stanford, simon fraser u., microsoft, kings college, it u. copenhagen, eth zurich, comenius u., cmu, christian-albrect u., charles u., acad. sci. czech republic
seems fairly diverse to me. It should not be hard to compile such stats for other years/conferences as well...
Next, let's look at the issue of recycling commitee members:
2. PC "freshness":
There is a perception that newer folks have a hard time getting onto S/S/F committees. To remedy this, David Johnson, at the SODA 2004 business meeting, introduced a list of 'neverbeens'. This list is defined somewhat roughly as
People who have never served on a S/S/F committee and plausibly could, where "plausibly could" includes things likeHe also requested that people who want to be on this list should email him. He then provides this list to commitee chairs to do with as they please.
- out of school for at least some small amount of time
- some reasonable number (>= 1, more is better) of conference papers
- regular attendance at such conferences
But in reality, how skewed towards "frequent members" are program committees in reality ? Let's look at some numbers in detail.
Freshness of PCs:
For SODA 2005, roughly 1/2 (my earlier comment had said 1/3) of the PC members are new i.e have not served on a SODA/STOC/FOCS committee before (disclaimer: this set includes me). For SODA 2004, the corresponding number appears to be 1/3. Both numbers are reasonable, and might demarcate extreme ends of the "right" ratio.
Historical PC composition (all years):
Served exactly once: 130 people
Served exactly twice: 34
Served three times: 13
Served four times: 1
1 time: 140
Overall: (SODA U FOCS U STOC)
(My take: SODA is better than STOC/FOCS at integrating new people, but not hugely so)
Adam further points out:
Translating these statistics to reflect recidivism in filling slots reveals that for each of the three conferences, a majority of the PC slots were filled by then-first timers. For all conferences as a group, the majority was filled by 1st- or 2nd-timers.
It thus seems to me that the perception of incestuousness amongData is a good thing... If you don't like the stats here, do your own digging and I will post the results here.
FOCS, STOC, and SODA PCs is in fact a mis-perception. Still,
we have to address the mis-perception by ongoing action, not
simply historical statistics. David Johnson's maintenance of
a list of people who have never served on STOC, FOCS, and SODA
committees and a continuing effort to include new people are