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Saturday, May 13, 2006

FCRC

This Monday May 15th is the early registration deadline for this year's Conference on Computational Complexity in Prague. The early registration date for the Electronic Commerce (EC) conference is Tuesday the 16th.

Next year both Complexity and EC will be part of the Federated Computing Research Conference (FCRC) in San Diego along with a plethora of other conferences including STOC, Computational Learning Theory (COLT), and Parallel Algorithms and Architecture (SPAA). June 13th is the day of death: STOC (2 tracks), EC, Complexity and COLT all have sessions that day. A theorist could find him or herself wanting to see five talks all given at the same time.

11 comments:

  1. It's even worst to give first talks on the same day...

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  2. I would like to know why the registration fees always need to be so high.

    For 300 Euro you get "a conference package, refreshments during coffee breaks, welcome party and the use of conference facilities (internet access)" (nobody needs the proceedings).

    How does this sum up to a value of 300 Euro? I am living not far from Prague and would consider seeing some of the talks if the registration fee was not so high. Not everybody in the community, especially those living in eastern Europe (where the conference takes place), is wealthy.

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  3. Invited speakers also cost money, since they are reimbursed for all travel/living expenses. For conferences with smaller number of attendees, invited speakers may actually be the biggest expense paid from registration fees. I am not sure about Complexity, though.

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  4. IEEE takes 20% of the fees off the top. The cost of the proceedings is probably around 10% of the registration fee; even if you don't get a printed proceedings there are flat fees for having the proceedings produced through IEEE so there is a limit to how mch that can decline. Uncertainty about attendance figures is another big cost for any conference and this is more significant for a small conference; there are fixed costs that must be paid and IEEE will insist on the use of pessimistic attendance predictors based on previous conferences. Invited speaker costs are probably not much more than 5% of the fee for this conference. I would guess that rentals of venues are signficant costs; in the US, these rentals are often implicitly subsidized by the hotel stays of the participants.

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  5. I would guess that rentals of venues are signficant costs

    In this case the venue is the Charles University of Prague. I hope/think the rent is not sooo exraordinarily high.

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  6. "in the US, these rentals are often implicitly subsidized by the hotel stays of the participants."

    Lol, usually conference rates are higher than normal to fool unsuspecting scientists.

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  7. I attended and presented at IEEE Infocom ( a highly respected Networking conference). The conference registration fees were $750. Thats the most I have ever paid( actually my advisor or to be precise, NSF). With funding running low, I won't be suprised if we had HD( Hi Def) "conferences" in the future. I would prefer if atleast invited speakers gave their presentations remotely to keep costs low.

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  8. Contrary to previous post, conference hotel rooms ARE "subsidised". More precisely, conference organizers (and, in the ACM conferences, ACM headquarters) negotiate with hotels: the conference guarantees a minimum number m of rooms to be booked, and the hotel agrees to set aside M>m rooms at a "conference rate" that is substantially below posted hotel rates. In addition, if at least m rooms are rented, the hotel will not charge the conference for the use of "conference facilities"--rooms for sessions, breakout rooms, etc.

    The hotel makes substantial profits on meals (which include coffe breaks) In addition, there are often very hefty charges for audiovisual equipment (for example in most major US cities, union regulations require a "projectionist" to be present at all times.)

    Since hotels with conference facilities tend to be upper crust, even discounted rooms may cost more than Motel 6 rates. However, you should stay at the conference hotel, since (see above) if the m rooms are not rented, the conference gets stuck with very high costs for the meeting rooms.

    Proceedings are useful, especially in conferences with multiple sessions. They add very little to the registration fee, and are a source of revenue to the organizing societies, as libraries and industrial labs buy them. Both ACM and IEEE have programs to make proceedings available for free for poor institutions and researchers.

    A recipe for a very cheap conference:

    1)Hold it in a cheaply accessible town [somewhat impossible if both Europe and US are heavily involved]

    2)Have sessions at a university, where large classrooms, free space, and audiovisual equipment are available for free. [Note that in several US institutions this is NOT possible in a straightforward manner: instead organizers have to negotiate with University conference centers, and rent projectors]

    3)Self-cater meals and coffee breaks.

    4)Have participants stay in student dormitories, with option to move to hotels.

    Not all participants like such spartan arrangements. More importantly, it requires very substantial manpower to do all of this: someone has to discover where to get coffeemakers, buy fruits and cookies, set them up, clean, etc. A back of the envelope estimate of the number of man-hours used for local arrangements for a recent STOC, held in a hotel with all arrangements other than conference registration done by the hotel, is about 300--including negotiations, bookkeeping, etc. I'd estimate about 1000 man-hours for the scheme above. You need a large number of faculty, students, and clerical helpers volunteer a LOT of their time to do this, so it is seldom done.

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  9. Contrary to previous post, conference hotel rooms ARE "subsidised". More precisely, conference organizers (and, in the ACM conferences, ACM headquarters) negotiate with hotels: the conference guarantees a minimum number m of rooms to be booked, and the hotel agrees to set aside M>m rooms at a "conference rate" that is substantially below posted hotel rates.

    Often it is the case that you can beat the conference rate _at the conference hotel_ simply by going to the company website and booking a room. With a little more effort, you can almost always manage something cheaper (negotation on the phone, internet search for special offers at the conference hotel).

    This does not seem to be true at STOC this year since the entire hotel looks booked, but it was true in Baltimore (STOC'05), in Chicago (STOC'04), and--most dramatically--at FOCS'04 in Rome (where some people saved > 40 euro/night).

    In my experience, most of these reserved blocks fill up, so why shouldn't some subset of the participants book at a lower, non-conference rate? As long as the block threshold is met, the conference doesn't lose any money (is this correct?)

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  10. From my experience organizing FOCS'05: so long as you are staying at the conference hotel, the conference should be able to get credit. Just send an email to the local organizer if you made your reservation "out of band" so they know. In addition to filling the room threshold, this will help out next year's local organizers when they have to convince IEEE to reserve enough rooms.

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  11. ...but it was true in Baltimore (STOC'05), in Chicago (STOC'04), and--most dramatically--at FOCS'04 in Rome (where some people saved > 40 euro/night).

    I've heard someone say that this was the case at SODA 2006 as well.

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