Wednesday, June 06, 2007

SoCG 2007: "Magic Hausdorff Lions Have Happy Endings"

(It's at the point now where people complain if the business meeting post is NOT up 5 minutes after the actual meeting. Sigh...)

Summary for people in a hurry:
  • Attendance this year was a record low
  • Next PC Chair: Monique Teillaud
  • SoCG 2008 will be at the University of Maryland (rather than Virginia: long story)
  • SoCG 2009 (by a 4-1 margin) will be in Aarhus, Denmark. BEER !!!!!!!!!
And now for the details:

Local News:
Otfriend Cheong was in charge of local arrangements. I have to say that the hotel we are at is quite amazing: It's on the Bomun Lake, and right outside the hotel is this lake-side path that leads to all the restaurants one can imagine, a tourist village with acres of motorized scooters (!), and some not-disgusting coffee. The hotel facilities themselves are excellent (again, modulo the coffee); much better for a cheaper price in comparison to a US Hotel. And as I sit here writing this, I can hear the rehearsals for our Korean classical music concert tonight.

Unfortunately, there was no one here to enjoy it ! Attendance is down tremendously (111 people), a factor exacerbated by FCRC, being held in a day or two in the exotic locale of San Diego (fish tacos ! blech!), and other related conferences. The relative remoteness of Gyeongju played no small role in this, I imagine.

There was much discussion about whether we should continue to be sponsored by ACM or not (the main issue is cost, and logistics when organizing in a non-US location); no resolution on this point.

PC Stuff: (obvious caveat: I was on the PC this year)
Jeff Erickson presented the usual stats (45/139 papers accepted, out of 286 submitting authors, and with 115+ external reviews). It turns out that the formula for succes at SoCG this year involves
submitting seven papers, with 4 co-authors, from an email address in Pakistan.
The title of this post was composed from words in accepted papers.

Lots of other stats, nothing particularly enlightening.

The Near Future.
Monique Teillaud will chair the SoCG 2008 program committee. The committee has 17 people on it, an unusually large number. She's hoping to get 4 reviews per paper, so maybe that's why.

David Mount explained why we had to move from Alexandria, Virginia to UMD for SoCG 2008. Apparently the main hotel we would have used was bought out and is now much more expensive. Boo hoo. On the bright side, UMD will be a lot cheaper in terms of accomodation.

SoCG 2009.

We had two competing bids for SoCG 2009. Aarhus (Beer ! Lego ! Beer ! City life ! Beer!) and Portland (Roses ! Beer ! More Roses ! Powell's Books ! Microbreweries!).

No, we are not a bunch of boozing alcoholics.

Lars did a bang up job with his Aarhus presentation. John Hershberger did a great presentation on Portland (a great city to visit, btw), but it was no contest. By a 4-1 margin, Aarhus it is !

Open Discussion.
It was getting rather late by the time we got to open discussions. Guenter Rote initiated the question, "Should we have a rebuttal process for reviewing papers", in response to apparently some aggrieved set of rejected authors.

We had a heated discussion on this point, and although we ultimately went nowhere, it was felt that we should continue things electronically (i.e on blogs). I'll post at greater length on this issue later, but to summarize the main points pro and con:

Pro:
  • Creates an improved sense of fairness
  • A safety net for potential errors
Cons:
  • Time waste for reviewers
  • Time waste for authors (!) (according to Jack Snoeyink), but I am not convinced that this is a valid argument
  • Won't make a significant difference
I'm personally dubious whether there's any measurable benefit to a rebuttal process, but I'm mildly in favor primarily because of the "placebo effect" it has.
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