Friday, September 04, 2009

SODA 2010

Ironically (I'm on the PC), I'm probably the last one to post about the SODA acceptances (although I did tweet it a while ago)

In case you don't already know, one major change this year is the 20 page limit on final versions, brought about by the all-electronic proceedings. It's worth pointing out here that this is a major change that I don't think ANY conference (theoretical or otherwise) has put into place (I can say this because I had nothing to do with it :)). 20 pages is huge: there's no way you can wiggle out of writing full proofs at this point, and I hope that this trend will continue as more of our conferences go all-electronic.

One caveat: I don't know what the final version format is. It seems unnecessary to go with the butt-ugly Sheridan 2-column format, but we'll see.

On the papers:
I'm not going to comment on the papers, since I reviewed many of them. Suffice it to say that (even though it sounds like a cliche), I was impressed by the quality of the submissions, and there were many good papers that unfortunately couldn't make it. We're in the process of writing decision summaries for the authors: these are intended to capture more of the discussion surrounding a paper. Hopefully, they will give a better sense of what the reviewers liked and disliked about the paper than just the actual reviews.

On the process:
I felt a bit more disconnected from the overall deliberations this time, and maybe others felt this way too. I spent a lot of time on "my pile", but I didn't have a lot of time to look over papers that I wasn't in some way responsible for. Given the number of submissions, this is unavoidable I guess.

I actually think the reason I felt this way was because of the software interface. Instead of the (clunky) SIGACT server interface used in years gone by, we used the snazzy HotCRP interface. In almost every way, this is a vastly superior interface (and I've used EasyChair, the Microsoft CMT, and other packages as well). It feels lightweight, it has great searching and tagging capabilities, and most of the interfaces are one or two clicks from the home page. It cleanly combines email notifications and uploads/downloads with web-based editing, and I'd recommend it very strongly for anyone organizing a conference in the future.

The only feature the SIGACT server had which this doesn't, was a landing page where you got a stream of all comments on all papers. It was a serendipitious way of picking up on discussions not related to papers you were in charge of, and I remember in the past getting interested in a discussion and a paper and actually reading and submitting a review myself. In HotCRP, you land at a page containing your reviews, and it doesn't give you a direct view into the global picture (except maybe for the PC chair).

One amazing feat of social engineering that HotCRP also does: at this landing page, it tells you how many reviews you've put in compared to the average. There was a time during the review process where I'd reload the page every few hours and see myself falling behind the PC average, increasing the pressure on me to submit reviews :).

24 comments:

  1. Why 20 pages? Why have any page limit at all? Wondering. --S

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  2. Once proceeding papers will be full papers, will journals accept such papers? (Because the full version has been published.)

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  3. Two questions:

    - will there be any paper proceedings at all (e.g., for the libraries) ? not that i am missing "the big purple brick" - just asking.

    - how will the proceedings be distributed ? CDs are not bad, but many laptops (including mine) do not have CD drives.

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  4. Piotr: both good questions, to which I don't know the answer:

    whether there will any kind of printed proceedings - maybe ? given the ACM DL, I'm less and less interested in this.

    How the proceedings will be delivered ? it's a good question. At most DB conferences now, papers are distributed on USB key: not as cheap as a CD, but takes care of your problem (and the USB key is reusable !)

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  5. I'd like LNCS format (even if that causes the total amount of text available within the 20 pages) for the selfish reason that a single column on a small page size with wide margins will work better on electronic text readers such as the Kindle. But I'd be surprised if we get anything better than the ugly two-column thing.

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  6. Why do the proceedings need to be "distributed"? Why can't they just be posted on the SODA website?

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  7. that is what happened last time

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  8. I have to say I'm tempted just to bring a USB stick over and transfer over a file-list for anyone who doesn't have a CD player. Although I suspect (like last year) SIAM will merely place all papers online to be snarfed by DownThemAll !

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  9. " it tells you how many reviews you've put in compared to the average."

    I was always curious to see this distribution of submitted reviews over time. Too bad that it is not included in the usual statistics given during the lunch-hour business meeting :-)

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  10. SODA has never required the fugbuttly ACM/Sheridan format. ACM doesn't publish SODA proceedings; SIAM does. SIAM has its own slightly less ugly two-column format (http://www.siam.org/tex/books/soda2e.all).

    The ONLY reason we use a two-column proceedings format is to squeeze more test onto the same mass of cellulose. I really hope that without cellulose, we can finally switch to a publication format that's actually readable.

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  11. Ah good point. Which brings up an interesting question.

    what's your favorite format ? or the one you'd like to use for SODA ? maybe we can whisper something into the ear of someone at SIAM.

    Personally, I don't mind the arxiv format at all.

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  12. So, was the point of doubling the page limit not to double the amount of text we could fit in our papers? (And if so, then shouldn't we not change the formatting?)

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  13. 1. There is no such thing as arxiv format - they accept anything that goes through latex.

    2. Why not use some journal format like SICOMP or TALG?

    3. In any cace, the font should be at least 11pt...

    4. If you take (3) into account 20 pages in nice format is essentially equivalent to 10 pages in the old format.

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  14. 20 pages in 11pt is a lot more than 10 pages in 10pt. the latter generally corresponds to about 14 pages in 11pt.

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  15. Lets see...
    Old SODA ppaer -
    proceedings version: 9 pages
    one column, 10pt: 11 pages
    11pt: 13 pages
    12pt: 14 pages.
    so I was wrong... Good to know.
    So 20 pages, 11pt is roughly 14-15 pages in the old format.

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  16. Moses Charikar9/07/2009 02:01:00 PM

    The move to longer papers was motivated by the following logic (which others have mentioned):
    now that we have electronic proceedings, why should authors have to agonize about what to
    leave out of the conference paper ? Full proofs are supposed to be in the submission anyway, so there is no point forcing authors to waste all that effort.

    Why 20 pages then ? SIAM wanted to put some reasonable upper limit on the length of papers. There is some per-page post-processing that takes place and associated costs.

    Regarding the format and how the proceedings are distributed, I don't know that it will be any different from '09 ... one change at a time.

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  17. My guess would be that if you do not have page limit, the average would come to 20 pages per paper anyway.

    In the long run, this might pave the way to longer conference submissions, ....

    ... and that would lead to short papers being discriminated against, since they are "light" compared to long and painful papers. That would be sad. The rapture would follow shortly afterwards. We are all doomed - just because the SODA PC wanted to play with the page limit...

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  18. Does any of you know when the reviews will be sent? The notification email said early this week, but still no news... Some other deadlines are approaching...

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  19. it should be quite soon. we finished writing our discussion summaries yesterday.

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  20. Anon - it's probably not comprehensive, but you can see your reviews by logging into the submission server.

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  21. I thought the idea of short conference paper was that conferences are only one round of review, so it is likely that there are mistakes, especially in the detailed proofs which reviewers often tend to overlook given the short time to review. So, one was supposed to submit a journal version with detailed and correct proofs. Also, now with 20 pages, and complete proofs, the rationale behind having a journal version is gone. And, I am wondering that those of us who do desire to have a journal version for some reason, how will they justify the resubmission of a full conference paper.

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  22. this is a good point, and I'm not sure I know the answer. it's an awkward situation, where the PC "reviewed" a version of the paper that isn't entirely detailed, and then a final version is published with unreviewed information.

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  23. Was the "\baselineskip=9pt" supposed to be there in the given template? It makes things look really squished.

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  24. Sorry, I misunderstood the directions.

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