Friday, July 02, 2010

Theory Happenings

FOCS accepts, abstracts and PDFs. The conference itself will be held October 23-26 in Las Vegas.

There is a proposed TCS version of Math Overflow, a Q&A site to let the crowd help your research. The site needs your commitments or it won't happen. More on the Geomblog.

I plan a post about NSF goings on after some expected announcements of new programs and personnel but just a reminder that the CAREER deadline is fast approaching, July 20 for CS.


  1. ALL conferences should do this:
    Abstracts and pdf files of papers on line as soon as possible.

    Which conferences do it and which don't? Is there any intellectual reason not to?
    (There may be reasons of logistics or copyrights not to, but I am not counting those in my question.)

  2. the risk that some people will read the abstracts and realize there really is no reason to go this year after all? some conferences have papers that sound good when you read the title but not when you get to the abstract. if there are too many then they lose some attendees.

  3. What about this year's job market happenings?

  4. post the abstracts and the papers

    then we can browse the abstracts and read the interesting papers

    then we don't have to go to the conference and we can help reduce academia's carbon footprint

    what's the draw of having so many conferences?

  5. These crowd-source stone-soup scams are getting out of control. How do people not see that 99% of the people benefit from the hard unpaid work of 1% and the 1% are basically just being scammed into working for free?

  6. Previous poster -

    Think of it from the Economics perspective: people wouldn't willingly submit answers on these sites unless they got something positive out of it. They make a net gain of happiness/utility that makes submitting worth the work, regardless of whether or not you feel like they should. Money doesn't need to come into it a system like this if people happily do the work.

  7. The last two anon posters.
    I ask this meaning no disrespect.
    What are you talking about?
    What is a
    ``crowd source stone soup scam''
    and how does it relate to what is being discussed here?

  8. Bill -

    The first of the two anonymous posters was referring to the "____ Overflow" sites. The rest of the post criticizes the popularity of these sites with the claim that 1% of the people are doing "unpaid work" for the other 99%. I was (hopefully) explaining that this %1 must have some personal motivation for solving these problems other than money.

    Kindest regards,
    the second of the Anonymi

  9. How do people not see that 99% of the people benefit from the hard unpaid work of 1% and the 1% are basically just being scammed into working for free?

    Ridiculous. First, this is not what's going on there at all, as you see many top mathematicians participating in mathOverflow, and answering each other questions.
    Second, what kind of a "benefit" anyone get's out of answering his research-oriented question?

  10. Second, what kind of a "benefit" anyone get's out of answering his research-oriented question?


  11. what?

    Research and science are not a business. There is no "benefits" in doing it.
    Questions in MathFlow that are answered are mainly already solved problems, that some expert in the field knows. Spreading scientific knowledge is one of the goals of any researcher.

  12. Research and science are not a business. There is no "benefits" in doing it.


    (and poor grammar)

  13. naive

    Cynical, and hence not a scientist.

  14. naive

    Agreed! Anyone who thinks that this is not a place with money and a form of business model is a fool. The recent talk about conferences needing to have prestige looks at one type of currency in this world. Also, look at the millions upon millions in NSF money alone being awarded. If you do not see an academic business model, you are likely to fail in academia.

    In general, one of the large problems with the state of the world is that leeches have convinced others to feed them willingly. If someone points it out, the leeches go into bully mode or self-righteous mode. The "stone soup" analogy earlier is an interesting one, though inaccurate since in that case you have the "99%" of the people supporting the "1%" of the people for free.

  15. Cynical, and hence not a scientist.

    Seriously? Who ARE you? If you don't think that there are people in academia who act in their own interests to make themselves look better or profit more based on the work of others, you are unbelievably cloistered. My guess is that maybe you are a graduate student with a big-name adviser or something like that.

  16. Our Chair began a recent Medical Grand Rounds by reminding faculty and residents: "We are a Medical School, but we are also a business."

    This has always been true, and will remain true for the foreseeable future ... until such time as medical schools are allowed to raise taxes and/or print money!

    It was the great William Osler who created this hybrid model of medical education, which funds itself (in essence) by treating wealthy patients in the morning (for profit), and poor patients in the afternoon (for teaching).

    In North America, per-capita undergraduate STEM degrees have been declining steadily and markedly, ever since (broadly) 1975. It is difficult to conceive of any effective strategy for reversing this long-term STEM decline, other than by embracing Osler-style educational strategies more widely within the STEM establishment.

    In the context of STEM, this might be achieved by undergraduate educational programs lasting 5-6 years (instead of four years), with the added 1-2 years spent in immersive apprenticeships at laboratories and industries.

    One striking benefit of the Oslerian approach to education is this: the incidence of cynicism in our medical school's students, residents, and faculty is (in my experience) remarkably low ... far lower than the (regrettably) growing incidence of professional cynicism that I have observed in STEM departments outside the medical school.

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