Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why is WiMob so expensive?

WiMob -- officially the IEEE International Conference on Wireless and Mobile Computing, Networking, and Communications -- is a prominent conference in communications and networking, organized by the IEEE Computer Society. It also happens to be far more expensive than its peers.

Suppose you're a professor with two graduate students; both your students have accepted papers, and all three of you want to attend the conference. The cost (just for registration) is given below for WiMob, compared with several peer conferences, from 2011 and 2012.

(For the professor, we're assuming the least expensive "limited" registration, at the early-bird IEEE or ACM member rate. For the students, we're assuming the student IEEE or ACM member rate. The plot is sorted in increasing order of 2012 cost.)

First off, kudos to ComSoc for running some of the least expensive conferences in the space.

So what makes WiMob 50% more expensive than PIMRC? It's the double whammy of a high student registration rate ($570, compared with $300-350 at most of the others), plus the requirement that each paper have a non-student registration (or an extra paper fee, almost as much as a registration). Three papers per registration is typical of the other conferences.

However, even if we consider a professor and one student with one paper, WiMob is still the most expensive for 2012, and second-most for 2011:
On the WiMob 2011 web site, the organizers say that "Due to the low acceptance ratio, each paper must have one full registration." And WiMob is a smaller conference than, say, ICC or Globecom, so it doesn't have the same economies of scale.

Yet ACM's Sigcomm is a smallish conference with a lower acceptance ratio than WiMob (see here), and still manages to be quite a bit less expensive. So what's going on with WiMob?

(Hat tip to Allen Mackenzie for pointing this out.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The incredible growing Transactions on Information Theory

My complimentary copy of the Transactions on Information Theory came in the mail today, my reward for publishing this paper. I haven't received one of these copies in a few years, so I was pretty surprised by the size of it. You're looking at 891 pages of journal right there.
It's not just me. The Transactions on Information Theory are getting much, much bigger.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ISIT 2012 as it happened

I created a Storify of my tweets tagged #isit2012, after the jump.  (As far as I know, I was one of only three people using this tag: the others were Josep Font-Segura and Da Wang. We need more information theorists on Twitter.)

It was an excellent ISIT -- one of the best I've attended. I missed 2010 and 2011 but I'm now motivated to attend more regularly. See you next year in Istanbul, hopefully!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Let's review talks [Updated]

[Update: I see I'm not the only one talking about talks this week.]

At ISIT 2012 this week on the campus of MIT, I've noticed that ISIT has changed very little since the first time I attended, in 2003 in Yokohama. In fact, as far as I can tell, the format of ISIT hasn't changed much in decades.

To be clear, ISIT is a popular, prestigious, and high-quality conference, so I wouldn't want to go all "new Coke" on it. But there are two things that bug me a bit:
  • Too many parallel sessions make it hard to find the most interesting talks; and
  • In general, there's lots of great work but not so many great talks.
The plenaries are always great talks, and I would learn so much more if ISIT could be one track, all plenaries. What makes the plenaries so great? These are specially invited talks from senior professors, who can be depended upon to give great talks. But if this were model for the entire symposium, it would be unfair to students and junior professors, who would never be asked to present their work.

So here's my suggestion. We have the technology to record our talks. I do it all the time, and you don't need specialized equipment -- I own at least five devices that can make a video recording, and I bet you do too (phone, laptop, ...). So why not record and submit your talk for review, along with your paper?

Papers should still be accepted or rejected on their own merits -- but only the best submitted talks should be accepted for presentation at the conference. So we would have fewer, but higher quality, talks; ideally, we could cut ISIT down to a single track of very informative and engaging presentations. We would all have to think about how to make a good talk, and even the rejected talks would get feedback for improvement. (In this world, accepted papers with rejected talks could go to an expanded poster session, or some other means of offline presentation.)

And if you want some pointers for your own talks, here's Frank Kschischang's famous Giving a Talk guide.