[Computational Complexity] Radical change to Conferences by Vijay Vazirani
(Guest Post by Vijay Vazirani!)
The processes of submitting FOCS/STOC abstracts and conducting PC meetings have undergone numerous changes since the good old days when you received your acceptance letter by US Mail and a couple of weeks later you received a huge rolled-up bunch of poster-sized papers on which you were supposed to glue your paper and mail back. There is little doubt that these changes have improved efficiency and fairness a great deal.
I would like to propose another, somewhat more radical, change that is now technologically feasible -- allowing people to submit, together with their 10 page abstract, a 10 (or 20?) minute video describing their result. The video will be optional, at least in the beginning.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words -- if so, a 10 minute video is worth millions! Imagine, as a PC member, how much easier it will be to read an abstract after you see a short video explaining the problem, the approach, and the main new ideas, and how much more "correct" your evaluation of the paper would be! In my opinion, this will greatly improve quality of the paper acceptance process. Many people complain that the latter is currently broken -- a large fraction of the decisions are nothing more than the flip of a coin or are left to such chance events as who reviews the paper or the constitution of the PC.
Many objections can be raised to this idea. Let me anticipate a couple and try to counter them. First, this change is feasible today -- if you need proof, just take a look at YouTube! Another objection is that this may give an advantage to some members of TCS community -- those who can give better talks. But then, they are precisely the people who are also better at writing clearly and already had a huge advantage. In fact, in my opinion, relatively speaking, the enhanced process will be a great equalizer -- giving a chance to people who don't have good writing skills to still be able to sell their wares.
Needless to say, this is a major change and it deserves an extensive discussion before it is implemented. I hope this blog will provide that opportunity.
Posted by GASARCH to Computational Complexity at 4/16/2007 10:20:00 AM