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FOCS 2013 – The Beginning

January 15, 2013

I was honored and, at the same time, penalized to be invited to serve as the program chair of FOCS 2013 (to be held in Berkeley, October 27-29, 2013). Reading blog discussions in the past about FOCS/STOC (and conferences in general), I realize that there is a lot of misunderstanding and mystification regarding the program committee (PC) work. I will try to post from time to time, in the hope that this will help bring additional transparency to the process. I’ll try to also give some useful information – and the piece of information for today’s post is the submission deadline: April 3 2013.

Though the conference is still a long time from now, I can make two predictions: (1) The conference will be excellent; (2) A significant fraction of the community will think the PC messed up badly.

As for (1), I simply think that all FOCS/STOC conferences I am aware of were excellent. The community keeps on producing great work and I doubt it plans to take a break just now. Of course, the best papers are sometimes earth shattering and sometimes only remarkable but I stand by my prediction regardless. As for the second prediction, this seem to always happen too (and to the most conscientious PCs too). And people that will feel that the PC messed up badly will have proofs. A common proof is composed of a pair of papers: The first one (could be yours) was rejected and the second one was accepted though it is clearly and objectively much weaker than the first.

But even at the face of spending a lot of work only to irritate many of my colleagues, I still find myself excited. I guess this is the naïve hope to learn something in the process and to gain a wider perspective on TOC. I also look forward to interacting with my PC. Talking about the PC, I always thought that the main contribution of a good PC chair is in the choice of PC members (who then deserve almost all of the credit). In this respect, I am very satisfied and absolutely grateful for each and every member of the PC. Unlike the STOC 2013 PC this is a standard (one-tier) PC:

Alexandr Andoni, Maria-Florina Balcan, Kenneth L. Clarkson, Moritz Hardt, Johan Håstad, Nicole Immorlica, Yuval Ishai, Yael Tauman Kalai, Tali Kaufman, Jonathan Kelner, Adam Klivans,  Amit Kumar, Yury Makarychev, Raghu Meka, Peter Bro Miltersen, Seffi Naor, Harald Räcke, Mohit Singh, Madhu Sudan, Paul Valiant, Virginia Vassilevska Williams, John Watrous

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