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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Traveling to Conferences

COCOON is one of these conferences where I don't quite get the geography. Mostly in Asia the conference has also been held in Australia, Montana and Alberta. Someone once told me it was a "Pacific Rim" conference. But this summer the 15th COCOON will be held on the US side of Niagara Falls, near Buffalo, New York. I guess technically COCOON is being held in a country that borders the Pacific.

Because COCOON is usually in Asia they had problems with authors not coming to the conference which leads to an interesting paragraph in the author's instructions pointed out to me by a student author.
Each accepted paper must come with a full registration (i.e. not the student rate) for the paper to be included in the proceedings. [The full registration rate is 450USD, the student rate is 250USD.] For authors with multiple accepted papers, one full registration can "cover" up to 3 papers.
I understand what COCOON is trying to accomplish but why punish the students with an extra $200.

In general authors make a pledge to come to a conference if their paper gets accepted and COCOON is just reacting to authors who don't fulfill that basic commitment. So paying a registration fee (not to mention travel costs) is essentially a requirement if you want your paper to appear in any conference proceedings. In CS, a field that puts greater prestige on conferences than most journals, that puts a heavy burden on those who want to publish their papers but do not have grants or other travel funds available.

20 comments:

  1. In CS, a field that puts greater prestige on conferences than most journalsDo you see us ever shifting away from this, toward journals? (At least, within TCS?) It's somewhat scary that a large body of work out there was never thoroughly checked for correctness, yet gets cited and built upon. I don't know how to force people to write journal versions other than to change what carries the prestige.

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  2. So if there is someone who actually has 4 papers in that conference they will require that person to pay the registration fee twice? That is so stupid I don't know what to say

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  3. I don't know how to force people to write journal versions other than to change what carries the prestige.An easier way is to allow for double counting of the conference and journal version when doing grant evaluation.

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  4. Why would it be better to be in the conference proceedings for a conference that has trouble even attracting attendance?

    Why should a Cocoon paper be counted above a journal article? It shows that other people care, whereas a journal article only shows correctness? For minor papers and minor conferences, it should not matter.

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  5. This is SOOOOOOO common in all IEEE COMSOC conferences. This is such a big pain and all students have to register with a full conference regn fee. In some COMSOC conferences, the fee is around $900!!!

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  6. What's the difference between the COCOON policy and the "bogus" journal that everyone earlier denounced because of the $1000 fee? They don't seem that different to me.

    See discussion at:

    "http://infoweekly.blogspot.com/2008/08/open-access.html"

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  7. In CS, a field that puts greater prestige on conferences than most journals...
    This might be true (and might be even desirable) for the parts of CS that are engineering oriented. But for theoretical computer science which claims itself to be a pure discipline (and is really a branch of pure mathematics) this is a sure way to attract disdain for the field. The best option is to make conference proceedings "uncitable" -- by not publishing them in a citable form, and thus force all authors to produce journal papers if they want to be have them appear in their publication list.

    Btw, papers appearing in even STOC/FOCS proceedings are not reviewed individually by either the Math Reviews or Zentralblatt -- so much for the archival values of these proceedings.

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  8. 1. Why is everyone anonymous? Is orthodoxy in the TCS community really so powerful?

    2. The last "Anonymous" makes a good point. As a mathematician working in a CS department, I find the publishing habits of my TCS colleagues to be a bit odd. Why not put it in a journal? At the very least, it should be admitted that the refereeing process even for top conferences is not as stringent as that of a good journal, and some lower weighting given when promotion, etc, is considered. People from other science departments constantly have to be told how great CS conferences are. Really, some are and some are not.

    Living far away from the rest of the world as I do, travelling to conferences is a major effort. I would like to be able to submit to some occasionally without having to show up. Video talks, anyone?

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  9. theoretical computer science which claims itself to be a pure discipline (and is really a branch of pure mathematics)I've heard no serious computer scientist claim such thing. Certain parts of complexity and TCS B can make such a claim, but the field as a whole is far from being a "pure" discipline.

    In fact, not even math is a pure discipline in the sense that such misguided TCS'ers use it. Pure math is a fiction developed by Hardy and Bourbaki. Math has always derived inspiration from the physical world and routinely uses it as a source of inspiration and informal verification.

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  10. I've heard no serious computer scientist claim such thing.The following appears in the recently published "The Princeton Companion to Mathematics" (highly recommended book by the way):

    "... Thus, theoretical computer science is a genuine branch of pure mathematics: in theory, one could be an excellent theoretical computer scientist and be unable to program a computer ..." (pp. 7)

    The contributors for the section on TCS are Oded Goldreich and Avi Wigderson -- though its not clear whether they actually authored the above sentence which appears in the introductory chapter. In any case, the editor of the volume (Timothy Gowers) who might have penned it, is hardly a Bourbaki-ist.

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  11. "Pure" is in the eye of the definer. Someone whose main interest and goal in research is to mathematically prove results is practicing pure CS or pure operations research or pure whatever. These can be considered branches of mathematics, since all mathematical ideas are related anyway.

    Of course, another person may object to the use of word "pure" because the subject/topic may have applications or is inspired by them.

    Different definitions, that's all.

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  12. Someone whose main interest and goal in research is to mathematically prove results is practicing pure CS or pure operations research or pure whatever.Not quite. Proving theorems is characteristic of mathematics alone -- and so if one's goal is to prove theorems (in the sense of mathematics) then you are a mathematician. There are other sub-disciplines of the sciences with the "pure" qualification -- such as pure chemistry, pure physics etc. -- but the practitioners in these fields do not prove theorems and as such do not qualify to be mathematicians.

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  13. So if there is someone who actually has 4 papers in that conference they will require that person to pay the registration fee twice? Only people with extremely bloated egos
    (who think that others should travel half-way across the globe to hear him or her speak no fewer than four times) will think of submitting four papers to the same conference and such people probably deserve to pay the registration fee twice.

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  14. This is getting closer to those "questionable" conferences where you are required to pay for registration and stay in the hotel they tell you to for a certain number of days. There are CS conferences where I have a choice of risking getting a paper accepted at a major conference or being able to pay for an extra undergraduate teaching assistant for a full year (registration, travel, hotel).

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  15. They should do it like scifi cons at least - let you say which days you want to come and get different rates. How is it that I can go to a scifi con for $100 for the weekend but it costs almost $1000 for a CS con? At a CS con the speakers are paying to come too!

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  16. Pure math is a fiction developed by Hardy and Bourbaki. Math has always derived inspiration from the physical world and routinely uses it as a source of inspiration and informal verification.
    This is completely mistaken. Modern mathematics as developed by leading figures like Poincare and Hilbert, for instance, is meant to be entirely pure, in the sense that mathematical constructions are said to be "true" by merit of their consistency only, totally independent of any physical reality.

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  17. Modern mathematics as developed by leading figures like Poincare and Hilbert, for instance, is meant to be entirely pure, in the sense that mathematical constructions are said to be "true" by merit of their consistency only, totally independent of any physical reality.Right, and because of that Poincare and Hilbert never did any physics, since the math they were doing was "independent of any physical reality".

    And if Poincare's (incorrect) solution to the three body problem had predicted the moon moving backwards, he would not have cared either since he was solving a mathematical problem devoid of any physical reality.

    Seriously and sarcasm aside, you couldn't have chosen two worse examples.

    Let me use a more modern example of a giant of a "pure" (TM) mathematician: A. N. Kolmogorov. He laid the foundations of probability theory, but he remained troubled by the fact that the theory didn't reflect certain basic intuitions about what is and isn't a random event. His proposal to address this issue eventually came to be known as Kolmogorov Complexity.

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  18. "... Thus, theoretical computer science is a genuine branch of pure mathematics: This is not the same as claiming that theoretical computer science is a pure discipline. CS is part of pure math in that it can be derived from logic thought alone, which is what Timothy alludes to in the second part of the quote:

    one could be an excellent theoretical computer scientist and be unable to program a computer ..." (pp. 7)The original poster used the word pure as in without application and/or inspiration in reality.

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  19. Seriously and sarcasm aside, you couldn't have chosen two worse examples.

    I don't think you understand the questions at hand. Pure mathematics, as developed by these leading figures and others, really isn't about physical reality. The axioms of mathematics, for instance, are chosen as to construct the mathematical concepts: a mathematical concept does not exist outside or independently of its axioms. In other words, one is not bound or constrained by "physical reality" when decideing on the axioms; and the axioms do not in any sense correspond to physical objects.
    For instance, a mathematical theorem concerning geometry is true whether your model of objects are horses, or points in the plane.

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  20. The axioms of mathematics, for instance, are chosen as to construct the mathematical concepts: And the axioms themselves were chosen so as to reflect the physical world. So suddenly the surprising applicability of math to physics is in the end not surprising at all. We start with physically inspired axioms, using physically inspired logic rules and then we act surprised when math and the physical world share a strong bond?

    In other words, one is not bound or constrained by "physical reality" when deciding on the axioms; Indeed we are not, and we could in principle study totally arbitrary axiomatic systems (logicians often do this for kicks), but math as a whole is still running on a physically inspired set of axioms and such it is not "pure" in the sense of disconnected to reality.

    For instance, a mathematical theorem concerning geometry is true whether your model of objects are horses, or points in the plane.We agree on this, and in this sense math and TCS are "pure". However mathematicians are somewhat troubled when their axiomatic systems seems to run counter to the real world. The entire philosophical discussion about the axiom of choice is one such good example. Same goes for the continuum hypothesis.

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