STOC/FOCS complete versions
Guest Post by Mikkel Thorup
I would like to congratulate PCs that have requested authors to submit appendices with complete proofs. I would like to suggest going one step further. For accepted papers, I think these complete proofs should be posted as reports on a place like ArXiv.
My basic interest is the case where STOC/FOCS deals with problems that are so important that we actually want them solved (contrasting cases that are just about exchanging conceptual ideas). In that case, the most damaging conference abstract is one that claims a solution but with an incomplete sketch of a proof that can neither be verified, nor falsified, and where the authors never themselves provide the details. Since the credit is already given out, there is no incentive left to really solve the problem. I have seen good research areas killed this way. The situation is much better when a paper has a clear bug, for then it is well-justified to look for a true solution. This is why I would like the complete proofs posted on ArXiv. It is OK that they are not so well-written. The important thing is that we have a place where people can go and check the details if in doubt.
I think this would have some positive side-effects. First of all, I do not think people should claim solutions to important problems if they do not have some complete proofs. The PC may not have time to read the complete versions, but knowing that your complete version will be public will most likely make people think twice before submitting (I think this is positive).
Having the first complete versions along with comments and questions should also pave the way for more and better journal versions.