Windows On Theory

FOCS 2013 is over

FOCS 2013 is over, and as predicted here it was very successful. I am happy to have taken part in its success (though all of the credit goes of course to the authors).

I also predicted that “A significant fraction of the community will think the PC messed up badly.” Naturally, most of the people with a paper at FOCS were generally happy with the PC work so I did not get too many complaints 🙂 (but I did get some). What I did find was that FOCS/STOC attendees passionately care about FOCS/STOC. I therefore got to hear quite a few personal philosophies about what’s good and bad in FOCS/STOC and what should be changed. The interesting aspect is that the opinions were at times the exact opposite:

As you might have realized by now, I am passionate about FOCS/STOC as well. The experience of chairing FOCS made me think about it much more and I have various ideas about changes to be made (I did express my ideas even before but I have refined them since). But the abovementioned discussions indicate to me that (1) FOCS/STOC is still extremely important to many of us, (2) changes should be gradual and controlled as we have such a diverse set of expectations.

After things settle in my mind, I may blog some more about what I think should be done, but for now let me just say that I believe the following combination is important and possible: FOCS/STOC should allow wide active participation (in numbers larger than today and by a more diverse community). On the other hand a small enough (and humanly digestible) part of the program should facilitate cross fertilization and information flow between the sub communities. The federated theory conference which so many of us support is a good idea but only part of the solution.