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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Comments on Comments

If you only read these posts, say through the mailing list or a newsreader, then you miss the best writing on this weblog—the comments. Take some time (and it will take some time) and read through the comments of last Monday's post SODA Rising.

Otto von Bismarck said "If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made." The same could go for a conference program. With some notable exceptions, great papers will be accepted, lousy papers will get rejected. But the majority of submissions fall into a middle range where decisions get made by the tastes of the program committee, not only in area but on whether to emphasize deep techniques versus importance and usefulness of the result. Different PCs make very different decisions and one shouldn't make any conclusions about how one paper fares in different submissions.

On the purpose of STOC and FOCS: STOC started in 1969 because the Switching and Automata Theory (SWAT) conference had too much switching and automata theory and not enough of the newly growing areas of complexity and algorithms. Eventually SWAT became FOCS and followed suit. The only official role they have today is to be the flagship conferences of two theory societies, ACM SIGACT (STOC) and the IEEE-CS TC on Mathematical Foundation of Computer Science (FOCS). What purpose do they play now in a diverse theory community is a good but not well-answered question. So we have kept the status quo where, except for adding parallel sessions, have followed the same basic model since the 60's.

As a commenter has pointed out, the accepted papers list of the upcoming SODA Conference came out last week. I'll leave it to bloggers who care more about algorithms to talk about the good papers there.

8 comments:

  1. One thing that the SODA discussion has demonstrated to me is that it would be nice to have the possibility of threaded comments on the blog, so we could have comments on comments on comments :-) Any chance of this happening?

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  2. Also, would it possible to have a rss feed for comments?

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  3. Indeed, Lance, please have an RSS feed for the comments.

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  4. Blogger doesn't currently have the capability for comment threading or RSS feeds. I forwarded the comments to a new Yahoo Group which has an RSS feed and where you can continue threaded discussions.

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  5. Now this was a quick response :-) One question - does the forwarding with Yahoo Groups work both ways? If not, then it solves the RSS problem (as all posts here will show on the RSS), but will create new problems when trying to use threads (as the only way to use threading would cause the response not to be mentioned at all on the blog itself).

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  6. Actually comments made from other people are not being posted to the Yahoo Group so we're back to square one. I'll try to think of another solution or hopefully blogger will update their commenting software.

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  7. Is there a way to join the mailing list without having Yahoo!ID ? Just to fill my current email address in some text box without complications....

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  8. Will this be a comment on comments on comments?

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