The ESA Conference (European Symposium on Algorithms) has a test-of-time award
recognizes outstanding papers in algorithms research that were published in the ESA proceedings 19-21 years ago and which are still influential and stimulating the field today.
This sounds like a great idea- some papers are more influential then people might have thought when they first got into ESA, and some papers are less influential then people might have thought. And I am happy that Samir Khuller (my chair) and Sudipto Guha (a grad student when the paper was written) won it for their paper Approximating Algorithms for Connected Dominating Sets.
But there are two things that are not quite right.
1) 19-21 years. That seems like a very small window. '
2) The paper has to have been published in ESA.
Together this makes the job of the panel that decides the award easier as they only have to look at three years of conferences. But there are many fine papers in algorithms that are not in ESA and there may be an awesome three year period and then a draught, so the window seems short.
But rather than complain let me ask some well defined questions:
Are there any other awards with a lower limit (in this case 19 years) on how long the paper has to be out, so that its influence can be better appreciated? This is a good idea, though 19 seems high. Awards for a lifetime of work are often similar in that the are given after the works influence is known.
Are there any other awards that restrict themselves to ONE conference or journal? Of course best-paper and best-student-paper awards to that, but I don't know of any others.
ADDED LATER: A commenter says that there are LOTS of test-of-time awards associated to conferences:
STOC, FOCS, SODA, CCC don't have them so I foolishly thought that was representative.
That raises another question - why do some conferences have it and some dont'?