Thursday, August 23, 2007

Australian CS Theory Conferences

There are two annual CS theory conferences in Australia - CATS and IWOCA (formerly known as AWOCA). Both seem to struggle with their identity. Should they aim to become internationally renowned conferences or should they mainly focus on bringing researchers together from the region? I know there are drawbacks with both choices, but imho they should focus on the latter.

First of all there are already too many conferences of questionable standards that claim to be prestigious, secondly I don't see anything wrong with being a regional conference whose aim is to bring Asia-Pacific researchers together. I always try to attend CATS since I think it's important for the Australian CS theory community to be active, however, I'm not keen on submitting a paper that could be accepted to a much better conference, especially not if any of my co-authors is a student.

In Europe the computational geometry community have had big success organising the European Workshop on CG (EWCG). The format allows everyone to submit a four page abstract that is reviewed for correctness. Almost all the papers are accepted but they are not published in any official proceedings, thus allowing the authors to submit their paper to more prestigious conferences. The success of the workshop shows that this is a possible (even recommendable?) format. The majority of the European CG community usually attend so it's a great place to meet all colleagues.

I heard people say that this format isn't possible because they can't get funding for it. However, I don't see this is a problem. Especially not since Australian academia seems to be all about networking and very little about doing good research.


  1. how do the two conferences compare?
    the program committee of IWOCA seems to be more international as far as i can see.
    Do we know how many people roughly attend the two conferences? and how many papers are presented on average?

    also, any preference on the papers presented? any difference between the two? i would guess IWOCA is more algorithmic.

  2. Since CATS is part of the ACSW it's not straightforward to compute the number of participants. However, this year (and last year) my guess would be roughly 50.

    I never been to IWOCA but as far as I've heard there are more applied math people attending IWOCA.

  3. Submitting papers for conference sounds like a hit and miss affair sometimes...