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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Goodbye SIGACT and CRA

Tuesday I served my last day on two organizations, the ACM SIGACT Executive Committee and the CRA Board of Directors.

I spent ten years on the SIGACT (Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory) EC, four years as vice-chair, three years as chair and three years as ex-chair, admittedly not so active those last three years. SIGACT is the main US academic organization for theoretical computer science and organizes STOC as its flagship conference. I tried to do big things, managed a few smaller things (ToCT, a few more accepted papers in STOC, poster sessions, workshops, moving Knuth and Distinguished Service to annual awards, an award for best student presentation, a tiered PC), some of them stuck and some of them didn't. Glad to see a new movement to try big changes to meet the main challenge that no conference, including STOC, really brings the theory community together anymore. As Michael Mitzenmacher becomes chair and Paul Beame takes my place as ex-chair, I wish them them and SIGACT well moving forward.

The Computing Research Association's main efforts promotes computing research to industry and government and increasing the diversity in computing research. It's a well-run organization and we can thank them particularly for helping improve the funding situation for computing in difficult financial times. The CRA occasionally puts out best practices memos like a recent one recommending quality over quantity for hiring and promotion. Serving on the board, I most enjoyed interacting with computer scientists from across the entire field, instead of just hanging with theorists at the usual conferences and workshops.

One advantage of leaving these committees: I can now kibbitz more freely on the theory community and computing in general. Should be fun.

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