Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ICS 2011: A Question

There has been a lot of discussions about ICS --- Innovations in (Theoretical?) Computer Science --- conference, some pre-conference aspirations, post mortem analyses and the buzz of the sequel.

I noticed from CFP of ICS 2010 that "There will be printed proceedings, distributed at the conference, and thereafter available for purchase from Tsinghua University Press." The proceedings don't seem to have an ISBN or equivalent, papers are not yet indexed by DBLP or equivalent, and how long will this conference will continue? Some of these concerns can be fixed, but the question is, should ICS papers be considered on par with archival conferences (misnomer?) like FOCS/STOC/SODA/.. and listed in one's CV along with them? There is a spectrum of conferences from ones sponsored by associations like IEEE/ACM/SIAM to say competitive workshops by a committed group of researchers finding their publishing means to workshops with carefully chosen invited speakers with published talks/papers, to others. I can't tell where ICS lies in this spectrum. Now, do I, should I care? Only to the extent that this seems like an interesting issue to understand.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Internet Ads Update

Some updates:
  • [Tutorial] While teaching a course on Internet Ad Systems in Spring (followup to this), I realized that while Algorithmers and Economists have connected with problems in that area, the database and data mining community has focused more on the interface between IR and ads, and less on some of the core data mining problems that arise directly in these systems. So, I decided to spend time abstracting such problems and will give a tutorial at VLDB 2010.
  • [FOCS Result] Renato Paes Leme and Eva Tardos have an interesting paper on GSP auctions. For conservative bidders (once who don't risk by bidding above their value), they show that PoA of GSP auctions is bounded by small constants for various equilibrium concepts. Nice, simple combinatorial structure that helps understand a widely used auction.
  • [Business] Finally, a little bit about business. Omnicom and Google get together via the Ad Exchange, as WSJ reports. This is the new world of display ads. Google Content Network rebrands as Google Display Network.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Music in Tel Aviv and NY

In Tel Aviv, my visit, happened to coincide with the White Night, an annual celebration that keeps the city open all night. Rothschild Boulevard, a boulevard of modernist buildings from Bauhaus to soon a Richard Meier tower, was lit with music from around the world and wandering crowd. Observation: Trying to dress well and look good in Tel Aviv is like going to FOCS and STOC and trying to look smart. You can try it, but everyone around you is smart, and you look silly.

Back at home. The city left 60 pianos in public spots so anyone can play.
But this is NY. Why plan these things? I saw this old, abandoned piano on the street. Some walked around it talking on the cell or looking at it curiously, some stopped to play standing, one found a key to tune and another made an impromptu list of keys to be fixed, some talked about moving it to their aptment if only it were bigger, .... So, instantly, the city discovers a neighborhood, it comes together and goes apart.