Thursday, March 26, 2009

FOCS facts

UPDATE: Umesh has posted a writeup of the original proposal for introducing "brief descriptions" in FOCS. It is a very well made argument. Enjoy!

As we now know, FOCS 09 papers are due on April 2nd, and here is the novelty, a "brief description" is due a week later, on April 9th. These brief descriptions should fit within two pages. They may be informal, and need not meet the standards of a formal publication. Now, there are examples online.

Umesh Vazirani, a true sage, described the rationale for these brief descriptions better than anything I have heard: in a FOCS submission, you tend me make results general, details as needed to convince the referee of the correctness, and be scholarly. On the other hand, in informal discussions with an expert colleague or while giving a talk on the same result, you have a different conversation, one based more on intuition, getting quickly to the novelty and insights. The brief discussions will hopefully have this flavor.

ps: Everyone understands why brief descriptions are better after the deadline, not before. :)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't talked to anybody from outside PC who is in favor of the new idea. Most of people have nothing against it, a few might hate it, but nobody is in favor. And I think nobody expects that this will stay to the next STOC/FOCS 2010.

On the other hand: isn't this new idea promoting the aspect of STOC/FOCS culture that many people (especially those outside our community) despise in STOC/FOCS paper? That it's beauty contest and the new text is nothing more than a sales pitch?

6:18 AM  
Blogger Dan Spielman said...

Here are a few uses for the brief descriptions that seem to have missed the blogosphere:

1. A common problem on FOCS/STOC committees is that each committee member only sees a small fraction of the papers. Having access to self-contained synopses of many papers (each of which will fit on one double-sided piece of paper), will make it much easier for committee members to get a feel for the range of papers submitted, before they get to the meeting.

2. I hope to get many more opinions for some papers from outside reviewers by sending them 2-page brief descriptions. While this is not so important for papers in the core FOCS areas, it could be very helpful for papers bridging theory with new areas.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

Good points.

While I was against the idea of brief descriptions at first, it was mainly out of inertia, and Umesh's arguments made me actually think about it, and I thought he made some subtle points.

- Metoo

4:06 AM  
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