Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I gave a poster session at Erdos 100- so how did it go?

In a a prior post I suggested that STOC perhaps have people give posters instead of talks. While I doubt this will ever happen I think its worth thinking about, especially for future conferences that may be founded. I also noted that the NIPS conference they do this.

But enough theory- at the Erdos 100th I GAVE a poster. Here are my thoughts.

  1. The paper I did a poster I posted on here and I posted to arxiv here. A bit awkward in that it was submitted to ERDOS 100 as USING THE ERDOS-RADO CAN RAMSEY THEOREM ON A PROBLEM ERDOS ASKED AND A PROBLEM ERDOS SHOULD HAVE ASKED, but by the time the conference came I had much better results (due mostly to co-authors of which I went from 1 to 4) and no longer used ERDOS RADO CAN RAMSEY. Do I do the Poster on what was submitted or what I have now? I picked a very nice proof to concentrate on for the poster that was new but still in the spirit of what was submitted. (The final version is being written- I'll post on this blog about it later.)
  2. The posters were for TWO days, for TWO hours after lunch. Since it was after lunch they didn't serve food. This seemed to work. They were in two shifts-- some did Tu-Wed and some did Th-Fri (I did Th-Fri).
  3. My actual Poster was terrible. But me talking about it and pointing to things was good. This was true in general- other peoples posters were hard to understand if the person wasn't there to clarify and explain, but was pretty good if they were. And it was nice to be able to ask questions directly and interrupt, unlike talks.
  4. As someone LISTENING to a poster talk it was better than a real talk. In one case I listened, went home that night,
    wrote some things down, realized I missed a point, and asked him again the next day.
  5. As someone GIVING a poster talk... it was very odd. I explained my results and a simple proof of one of them about 40 times in a 2 day period. I happen to like this (note that I've taught VDWs theorem at least W(6,2) times). But even though I like it, it was tiring. You know how it is ---- the first 35 times you explain a theorem you're excited about it, but then it got to be old hat (which would have been fine if it was a talk on a hat problem).
  6. There were 60 posters.

This was overall a positive experience but, again, tiring.

So would this work for STOC/FOCS or other existing conferences? We would have to adjust our mentality to thinking that posters were not less prestigious. I don't think this will happen. But what about a new conference? If some new conference in theory gets started perhaps they should look into this model. A new conference does not have to follow the STOC/FOCS model.