Thursday, January 19, 2012

SODA Review II: The business meeting

Jeff Phillips posts a roundup of the SODA business meeting. Hawaii !!!!!!

I thought I would also post a few notes on the SODA business meeting. I am sure I missed some details, but here are the main points.

Everyone thought the organization of the conference was excellent (so far). The part in parenthesis is a joke by Kazuo Iwama towards his students - I guess that is Japanese humor, and encouragement.

Despite being outside of North America for the first time, the attendance was quite high, I think around 350 people. And the splits were almost exactly 1/3 NA, 1/3 Europe, 1/3 Asia.

Yuval Rabani talked about being PC for the conference. He said there were the most submissions ever, most accepted paper ever, and largest PC ever for SODA. Each PC member reviewers about 49 papers, and over 500 were sub-reviewed. We all thank Yuval for all of his hard work.

We voted next on location for 2014 (2013 is in New Orleans). The final votes were down to Honolulu, HI and Washington DC, where Honolulu won about 60 to 49. David Johnson said they would try to book a hotel in Honolulu if he could get hotel prices below 200 USD/night. A quick look on made it appear several large hotels could be booked next year around this time for about 160 USD/night or so. Otherwise it will be in DC where the theory group at UMaryland (via David Mount) have stated they would help with local arrangements. They did a great job with SoCG a few years ago, but I heard many suggestions that it be held more downtown than by UofM campus. And also there were requests for good weather. We'll see what happens...

Finally, there was a discussion about how SODA is organized/governed. This discussion got quite lively. Bob Sedgewick led the discussion by providing a short series of slides outlining a rough plan for a "confederated SODA." I have linked to his slides. This could mean several things, for instance:
  • Having ALENEX and ANALCO (and SODA) talks spread out over 4 days and intermixed even possibly in the same session (much like ESA).
  • The PCs would stay separate most likely (although merging them was discussed, but this had less support). 
  • For SODA the PC could be made more hierarchical where there are, say, 6 main area chairs. Then each area chair supervises say 12 or so PC members. The general chair would coordinate and normalize all of the reviews, but otherwise it would be more hierarchical and partitioned. Then PC members in each area would have fewer papers to review, and could submit to other subareas even. 
  • There was also a suggestion that PC chairs / steering committee members have some SODA attendance requirements. (Currently it consists of David Johnson, 2 people appointed by SIAM, and the past two PC chairs - as I think I understand. David Johnson said he would provide a link to the official SODA bylaws somewhere.). 
Anyways, there was a lot of discussion that was boiled down to 3 votes (I will try to paraphrase, all vote totals approximate):
  • Should the steering committee consider spreading ALENEX, ANALCO, and SODA talks over 4 days? About 50 to 7 in favor. 
  • Should the steering committee consider/explore some variant of the Confederated SODA model? About 50 to 2 in favor.
  • Should the steering committee consider making the steering committee members elected? About 50 to 1 in favor. 
There were about 100+ votes for location, so usually about half the crowd abstained for all votes. There were various arguments on either side of the positions. And other suggestions. Some people had very strong and well-argued sides of these discussion points, so I don't want to try to paraphrase (and probably get something nuanced wrong), but I encourage people to post opinions and ideas in the comments.

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