Friday, June 06, 2014

Do you support CCC's declaration of Ind? If so...

The steering committee for the CCC recently announced its decision to be independent of IEEE. Here is their open letter to that effect.
  1. If you agree with this declaration of independence then you should read the petition here and consider signing it. (I have signed it. Lance didn't.)
  2. If you want to read a cleverer blog post on the topic, see Scott's here.

12 comments:

  1. I find this "petition" weird. I voted for the independence in the hope that the expense per participant would decrease, but I don't won't to sign any ideological pamphlet stating grand ideas like the following:
    "we support the idea that the primary conference in the field should be owned by the computational complexity community, that is, by those who contribute intellectually to the conference".

    I also don't believe there is, or there should be, "communities" in science. There should only be individual researchers.

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  2. A.Q. -- It's not a "petition", it's a declaration of support for decisions already made by the steering committee. This will enhance the conference's legitimacy as it makes the shift.

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  3. I take issue with several things.

    First, the vote: I don't find it very democratic that someone who has never published in CCC counts the same as someone who has. Similarly, what is at stake for someone with almost no papers at CCC, but plenty at STOC/FOCS? I am not suggesting another voting process; I am questioning the relevance of the vote.

    Then the signature process afterwards. What is the point of asking for someone to sign this even if they have voted otherwise? How do we know that all of these signatures are geniune and not motivated to be politically correct? When almost all the giants in the field are there and someone is up for tenure/promotion in two years (say), of course there will be pressure to sign it.

    Then the wording of the support letter. I find it almost hyperbolic. What frustrated Luca, Bill and others, it seemed, was their experience with the local arrangements process. There was no mention of this kind of ideology. Did the steering committee really write this, or are they at this point just nodding to a single person getting carried away.

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    1. Regarding the vote - The vote was only one element in the decision process, albeit an important one. Everyone on the CCC mailing list had one vote. I cannot vouch for the composition of the list at the time I took over as chair, but since then the policy has been to automatically add all of the following people to the list: paper submitters, attendees, and committee members. Others can also sign up for the mailing list. I'm not aware of anyone who did this with the vote in mind. Perhaps one or two people did but then they did not skew the vote. There have been several other straw polls and votes on this issue at CCC business meetings in the past. Each time the outcome pointed in the same direction.

      Regarding the signature process - Whereas the previous steps were all internal, this step is geared towards the outside: to legitimize the move towards the outside, and to uphold our claims to the history and legacy of CCC. From that perspective, I don't see a problem asking everyone in the community to consider expressing support, even if they didn't participate in the vote or favored another outcome. Moreover, many of the people who voted differently explicitly included a comment that their preference wasn't very strong, and that they'd be supportive if we decided for independence.

      Noone should sign unless they are supportive. If your motivation to sign is your upcoming tenure or promotion case, then please don't. First, I think you're overestimating the importance of this issue. More importantly, it would be appalling if such matters influenced your tenure/promotion decision. I find it worrisome that you think this may be the case...

      Regarding the wording - All of the messages that went out about this issue were approved by the entire steering committee before they were sent. For the open letter and the support letter, there was a subcommittee of four who drafted them, and then the rest of the committee was asked for comments and ultimately approved the version that was sent.

      Finally, I want to stress that we have tried to make the process as transparent, democratic, and inclusive as possible. We sent announcements to the bloggers, TheoryNet, etc, and left ample time to comment on the procedure before embarking on it. For example, who would get to vote was posted on the forum on February 2, whereas the voting window wasn't until April.

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  4. I miss Mihai now9:34 AM, June 08, 2014

    How do we know that all of these signatures are genuine and not motivated to be politically correct?

    Actually, we can know pretty well the opposite: the number of people who voted for the separation is only 114 (%60 out of 190 voters), while the number of active complexity researchers who publish in CCC and signed the petition is already about 200.

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    1. Jakob Nordstrom1:49 PM, June 09, 2014

      Not at all. For instance, I personally voted for another outcome, but my preference was not very strong and I fully support the decision made. Above all, I very strongly support the steering committee and the transparent manner in which they have conducted this whole process.

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  5. A. Q.: There are communities and there will always be communities. That's how the state of nature is and will be.

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  6. Anon 6:43,
    Yes, there may always be communities, and there also may always be corruption in the world. This doesn't mean we should sign petitions advocating corruption.

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  7. Why did Lance not sign it ? What are the benefits from not signing it ? I don't see any, maybe you could enlighten us ?

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  8. @ Anonymous11:36 PM, June 08, 2014: "Why did Lance not sign it?". Here are his thoughts about the (underestimated) role of conferences in CS that could explain "why". Some (a clear minority) in our community would be happier to first seeing serious and wide discussions on this basic question, before voting about formalities, about the status of specific conferences. B.t.w. I know at least one giant in circuit complexity (not me, of course) who also doesn't signed by just this reason :-)

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    1. Sorry, the link to Lance's paper won't work. It is people.cs.uchicago.edu/~fortnow/papers/growup.pdf

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  9. Was switching to ACM considered?

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