Tuesday, December 23, 2008

INFOCOM Miniconference

A number of commenters on my last post have mentioned the INFOCOM Miniconference. I hadn't actually known about the miniconference -- although I found out more details about it soon after the comments, as my second INFOCOM submission, rejected from the conference, was accepted to the miniconference. (I did have a paper in INFOCOM 2008, but my student Adam Kirsch went to the conference to deliver the paper, and I can't recall ever hearing anything about the miniconference format. Someone should have blogged about it before. :) )

100 additional papers -- a bit over 7% of the original submissions -- were apparently accepted to the miniconference, covering most of that "top 20-30%" range. The main difference appears to be the labelling (INFOCOM miniconference, not INFOCOM) and that the paper will be limited to 5 pages in the proceedings.

While I'm happy the paper got in, I must admit, I don't understand the reasoning behind the INFOCOM Miniconference, and I hope some readers in the know will explain and elaborate. If the purpose is to have a 2-tier conference, it seems an odd structure -- why not just accept 25-30% of the papers? (A few hundred pages in the proceedings wouldn't seem to matter much since it's on a CD?)

I wonder if theory conferences like STOC, FOCS, or SODA should adopt some sort of 2-tier structure in order to accept more papers. Certainly most people who have papers rejected from these conferences (myself included) believe they should have gotten in, and some fraction of them are probably right. On the other hand, such a structure would seem to lessen the prestige associated with these conferences. Any opinions?


Suresh Venkatasubramanian said...

Oh how we forget :). Can I say, "SODA 2-page papers" ?

Michael Mitzenmacher said...


The SODA 2-page system was not what I would call a 2-tier system. The 2-page papers were, as I recall, meant to give short results or summaries of results to go into a journal version. It was not that your SODA paper got rejected, but it was decided the paper was above-bar and it would get a 2-page slot.

Definitely a problem with the SODA 2-page paper system is that there didn't seem to be a completely consistent message of what it should be and why it was needed; but I don't think that it's the same beast as what I'm describing here.

Suresh Venkatasubramanian said...

this may be what the 2-page system was envisioned as being (and don't forget the "must feed the discrete mathematicians" angle), but it effectively devolved into the usual kind of 2-tier system.

Also, if you recall the various business meetings we had during the 2-page era, some of the most virulent opposition came from viewing it as the second tier in a 2-tier system. Basically people didn't want "second-class" papers in SODA.

And I'm not sure I like that idea either. A paper that appears in some random conference doesn't carry the associated stigma of "rejected from super conference" with it: papers in the second tier of a two-tier system do. Is this a good thing ?

One might hope (over time) that if in fact the papers accepted to this second tier are quite good, the stigma will go away. This already happens independently, when lesser-known conferences pick up the runoff from the more well known ones: ESA is a case in point.

Shaneal Manek said...

Hi Prof. Mitzenmacher,

I just read about a computer generated paper that was accepted, with review, to the International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE).

You can read more here: http://entertainment.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/23/2321242

I found it mildly entertaining, and thought you might too. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how this reflects on the field/system as a whole?