Friday, March 27, 2009

The FOCS submission experiment

Via Muthu, an explanation by Umesh Vazirani of the rationale for the new 'submmary after the deadline' experiment at TOCS. A key paragraph:
To understand the motivation for the abstract and better picture
its contents, think about how often the 20 minute presentation at
STOC/FOCS provides a better insight into the research than the
paper. While preparing the talk, the authors can step back and
try to explain something interesting about their work - either the
core of their proof, or a special case of their theorem, or the
new conceptual framework that they introduce. The one week
period after the mad rush to the STOC/FOCS deadline would
provide a chance to reflect, and additionally there would be an
incentive for the authors (just as in the conference presentations),
to simplify.
I think it's a great idea to try things like this. I hope it will work though. One of the reasons that papers often get written badly for STOC/FOCS is because there's an incentive to obfuscate and make things look rather technical. Whether the post-deadline calm will allow people to see beyond the chest-thumping will decide whether the 2-pages are useful.
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