Do It Yourself Theoryfestival Design – Guest Post By Sanjeev Arora
Sanjeev suggesting an interesting exercise, in our series on the design of a Theory Festival as part of STOC 2017:
Throughout our conference design process we often observe big shifts in people’s opinions as they engage with the issues and the mathematical constraints. So if you have strong opinions about the theory festival, I highly recommend spending half an hour trying to come up with your own design.
Before and during your design, answer the following questions to yourself about the event you are planning:
- How is the event appealing to theorists who currently don’t come?
- How is the event creating more interaction opportunities?
- Part of the target audience wants more signal from the PC (= more power), and part of the target audience wants to give less power to the PC because they disagree with its past decisions and general preferences. Which direction does your plan go in?
Keep in mind also the general equilibrium view:
(i) People worry about the effect of any change in the conferences on hiring/promotion/grant applications. The general equilibrium view says that if you double or halve the total number of STOC papers (“the money supply”) its only effect will be to double/halve the number of publications required to get the job or the grant. So what should determine the total number of accepts in your design?
(ii) The net attention of attendees is unchanged. X-minute talks in 4 parallel sessions use up the same amount as X/2-minute talks in 2 parallel sessions. Which do you prefer —as author and as attendee—and why?
Of course you could argue that you can change the equilibrium by causing more jobs/grants to be created, or by increasing the number of attendees. In that case, please state your assumptions.
Have a go at it, and if you come up with interesting designs, please sketch them in your comments!
Currently: 90 accepts; 20 min talks in 2 parallel sessions (about 16-17 hrs)
Essentially no plenary. 1 separate day of workshops.
Our designs assume at least 12 plenary hrs, 2 hrs of tutorial, 1 day of workshops (all distributed over 5 days). Plus, two hours for lunch and an evening poster session.
Remember to allow for changeover time between speakers.