I'm a bit surprised by the lack of discussion on the announcement of the new ICS conference. (That's "Innovations in Computer Science", a new theory conference -- with a rapidly approaching deadline.) Perhaps that's because none of the organizers themselves are bloggers -- let me extend an open invitation to any of them to guest post here to discuss the conference. I also think in some part that's because there's confusion as to what ICS is supposed to or will be. Indeed, when talking about it to people at STOC, more than one person suggested to me that probably the organizers themselves didn't know what sort of papers they'd get, and that it would take a couple of years for the conference to find itself.
On the other hand, my previous post on ICS suggests some discussion would be helpful. Take the response of one anonymous commenter.
'It is clear from various discussions that many people in the community feel that FOCS/STOC has deviated from their original goals, and no longer serve the interests of the discipline as a whole. These conferences serve more as some sort of "proving ground" for graduates students and young reserachers and these people seem to be constitute the main attendees to these conferences these days. Hopefully, ICS will become a venue where more serious thinkers can present their work, without becoming contaminated by the career-related competitive issues that have ruined the STOC/FOCS conferences.'
Now, I have not been regularly attending STOC/FOCS of late, as my interests have shifted more to applications, and my more theoretical work is generally a better fit for SODA. But having just spent several days through the entire conference, I just don't get this comment.
It's natural for up-and-coming graduate students to aim for the top conferences, and it's the sign of a healthy community that they can get papers in. (Indeed, often they produce the best work!) While the competitive nature is unfortunate, basic supply/demand of top jobs explains it, and in my experience it's common across CS subfields. Is this really keeping out good work? I don't see it.
My take on this comment was that there are still people frustrated with the issue of "conceptual papers" being rejected from FOCS/STOC, which seem to be the commenter's view -- that ICS could become a forum for these works . My take is that the community has heard the complaint and taken it into consideration. FOCS/STOC seems to be happy to accept good conceptual papers. A HotTheory conference, which takes work too preliminary for FOCS/STOC but with clear potential, could be worthwhile in my mind; but somehow I don't see a conference for papers rejected (or that would be rejected) from FOCS/STOC because the supposedly unwise committee couldn't understand the conceptual contribution as being what the community needs. I personally hope ICS becomes the former rather than the latter.
But that's just my view. The broader point is, while the organizers will try to make the conference the best it can be, as a community, shouldn't we try to discuss it more? Perhaps not here on this blog, but in general?
In a related vein, please see the thread below, which I've opened for more general comments and feedback on this year's STOC.