Google Analytics

Friday, January 19, 2007

Proceedings Papers

Grant Schoenebeck asked this question for the Q&A Podcast but we didn't get to it.
In proceedings, papers are printed in a hard-to-read two column format and are artificially cut off at (usually) 10 pages. Personally, I look for a more readable/extended format on-line before suffering through the conference format. However, if we no longer have printed proceeding (or even if we did, but also had on-line proceedings) then these restrictions would no longer need to apply. We could print things is a way that would be much easy to read and could have original versions of the papers that we not oddly missing some proofs or sections.

Is this a good idea? Why don't we start doing this now?

We have the two-column format in proceedings because it saves space, a paper typically drops 30-40% by moving to a two-column format. Less white space.

But I would go further than Grant and suggest that every author should have a complete version of their paper available on their web pages and/or an archive site before the conference. I hate the phrase "A full proof will be available in the full paper" when one doesn't exist. But I don't want to require the extra version or we may end up discouraging people from writing up their results properly with yet another deadline.

10 comments:

  1. If we go to CD authors can no longer say
    ``Proof ommitted for space''. That sounds
    great, unless you are the author and don't
    want to write down the details yet.

    The first person to say `Proof omited for
    space' probably Fermat, but thats not
    really fair since they were private notes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hate the phrase "A full proof will be available in the full paper" when one doesn't exist.

    What doesn't exists? The full proof or the paper.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The first person to say `Proof omited for space' probably Fermat, but thats not really fair since they were private notes.

    But Fermat is not credited for his proof that was omitted for space - it's not clear how many people believe he actually had one. By contrast, people do get credit for their conference papers which omit details, even when the full version never makes an appearance.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Often, pressure to fit within a page limit can improve a paper by forcing the author to concentrate on the essential point. That's my experience anyway, from quite a few years of editorial experience.

    Of course, my own ideas are much too important to be subjected to such constraints :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have often been tempted to write "proof omitted for lack of time..." or, better yet, "proof omitted for lack of patience" (if it's an obvious proof).

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Proof omitted for lack of concern."

    "Proof omitted until author has tenure."

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't particularly mind it when an author leaves technical details for the full paper; after all, a good conference paper is about the ideas, not the details.

    What I *do* mind is the immense waste of time it takes to 1) prepare a single-column version that fits in exactly 10 pages, and then 2) prepare a double-columned version for the proceedings, typically at great expense to readibility, and forcing me and my coauthors to fiddle with the typesetting of all nontrivial equations.

    How many person-hours per year does the theory community waste on this typographical acrobatics?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Agreeing with anonymous from comment #7. I have said previously and maintain there is no reason for the submission format and the final format to be different for conference submission; it is simply a big waste of time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. > Often, pressure to fit within a page limit
    > can improve a paper by forcing the
    > author to concentrate on the essential
    > point. That's my experience anyway,
    > from quite a few years of editorial
    > experience.

    I agree. But it's hard to believe the ideal length for every result is exactly 10 pages (since nobody seems to use less than the max allowed).

    ReplyDelete
  10. A follow-up to comment #7. For conferences with llncs proceedings (e.g. Crypto and RANDOM/APPROX), I'd use the llncs style file with the fullpage package for the submission version (with a hack to increase the width of the abstract). I'd usually still have to edit the equations for the proceedings version, but at least the look-and-feel is preserved, and it's not as much work as with the two-column format.

    ReplyDelete