Tuesday, February 07, 2006

February is the cruelest month

I was recently grumbling about conflicting deadlines: conference A announces results well after conference B submission deadline has past. STOC and SoCG have an ongoing conflict that I have always felt "conflicted" about. In fairness though, with the number of conferences just in the broad area of algorithms/theory, it's hard not to have conflicts. This got me thinking though: exactly how bad are the collisions ?

I decided to make a somewhat ad hoc list of conferences in the general scope of algorithms and theory (i.e topics in this conference will often show up in STOC/FOCS/SODA), and look at their submission deadlines (a man's got to do something while waiting for his sausage...). The resulting timeline is reproduced below; the blue bar indicates the span of time from submission to result announcement, and the red dot indicates the actual date of the conference.

It is not surprising to see how academic schedules appear to influence conference scheduling (travelling in the summer is so much easier), but I did expect to see a slightly more equitable distribution of deadlines over the year. Indeed, February is the cruelest month.

Notes and caveats:
  • I used the most recent conference dates; there are variations from year to year, but not significant ones.
  • WADS and SWAT are really the same conference, but alternate.
  • RANDOM and APPROX operate together
  • I wonder why ISAAC and FSTTCS, which are both Asian theory conferences, schedule themselves to collide that way.
  • As some pointed out, these are not conflicts per se; the number of people submitting to (say) COLT and CPM at the same time is probably small. I was more intrigued by the density of deadlines in the early part of the year.
Not only does most travel happen in the summer, I imagine that much research must happen then as well. It's a good time to get manuscripts ready before the fall onslaught begins.


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