I am a big believer that traditional information theory and computer science theory are becoming much more intertwined. Perhaps, someday, the boundaries will be so fuzzy that we won't really distinguish them. Since I don't think that day is here, I'll describe the International Symposium on Information Theory -- a conference, it seems, most CS people don't know about -- where I'm headed this week.
ISIT is the major information theory conference of the year, by which I mean it's huge. I mean, ridiculously huge. Eight parallel sessions huge. I don't know the actual numbers, but I'd guess attendance is in the large hundreds, nearing one thousand, maybe more. I'll ask the IEEE people when I get there.
We don't have a conference like this in CS theory. If we get 300 people to a conference, it's a big deal. We prefer to split things up into smaller, more coherent units. There are pros and cons to both approaches. The obvious benefits of the big conference is that it gets everyone together.
With smaller conferences, CS theory conferences ostensibly have a higher quality bar. As you might expect at such a big conference, with acceptance rates of 50% or higher, the paper quality varies dramatically. You tend to see a lot more preliminary ideas or work that's not as fleshed out as a STOC/FOCS/SODA paper would be -- of course, in ISIT, you only have 5 pages. On the other hand, you'll also get breakthroughs presented here, like Amin Shokrollahi's Raptor Codes.
I am still a bit of an outsider at ISIT, as it is not my regular crowd, although every year I seem to know more faces. So you could view it as simply self-interest that I encourage more CS people to submit and attend. If you're doing anything related to codes (network coding, list decoding, low-density parity-check coding -- all topics many CS theory people are working on), you probably already know about ISIT -- there are lots of session on coding, naturally. But they also have sessions in cryptography, quantum information theory, compression, sequences and complexity, and network information theory. From that list of topics, you might think it's a CS theory conference! But that's the point -- the two areas are increasingly close, and more interaction, including CS people attending ISIT, would help both sides.
I hope to have interesting news to report.