Thursday, January 27, 2005

The fundamental silliness of all of this...

It's nice to have outsiders peep into our cloistered theory community from time to time. At dinner, I was trying to explain some of the business meeting discussion to John Baez, and the increasingly obvious look of incredulity on his face and my ever-more-convoluted attempts to explain myself soon made it apparent that something was seriously wrong.

Pretty much all of the annual handwringing we do over short/long/submissions/acceptance /quality/reviews/PC load and what have you, would just disappear in a "publish in journal/talk in conference" model. I realize that this is far too radical (though not innovative) an idea to ever be implemented any time soon, but you have to wonder why we in algorithms (and in computer science in general) put ourselves through such misery for no good reason. I have yet to hear a convincing reason why our model is superior to the math model1.

Admittedly our business meetings would be a lot shorter (not to mention less beer), but I am willing to pay this price :)

1The only reason I have heard is that our journals take too long to publish papers, but that assumes that this would not change if we had no conference reviewing.


  1. We would still have the issue of which papers to
    be presented at the conference. Given the numbers,
    there is no chance that everyone can present their
    paper. How do you decide this?


    Posted by Anonymous

  2. Firstly, numbers drop when conference acceptance is not a valued resource. Only people who actually plan to show up will submit things. At this SODA we had 900-odd submitting authors but only 300 attendees.

    Secondly, you don't give everyone 25 minutes to talk. there are lots and lots of posters, and a few special talks. or people get really short 10 minute talks.

    My point is that there are worked out models: you can't evaluate just one aspect (the submission process) without looking at the whole process 

    Posted by Suresh

  3. If the number has no relavance, what is the number?
    For the pure silliness of it all go to 

    Posted by encantoman


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