Monthly Archives: July 2011

ICALP 2011

I am back from sunny Zürich and ICALP 2011.

Attendee at ICALP 2011 business meeting. The image shows the free ice cream and name tag.

This was a very well-organised event hosted at ETH. Michael Hoffmann had everything under complete control and remained confident, alert, calm and accessible. I’ve tried go take a glimpse behind the curtains, such as looking at the two-page to-do list for technical staff in the lecture halls, and the level of detail and relevance is just off the scale. I hope Michael can summarise his preparation and tips for everybody’s benefit.

Future Publication of the ICALP Proceedings

The EATCS general assembly is by tradition a long and dry event without free beer. To break new ground, the organisers handed out free ice cream. ’tis not beer, but a welcome step in the right direction. I hope the organisers of next year’s ICALP, Warwick, take note.

Burkhard Monien’s EATCS Annual report 2010-2011 [PDF] is available on-line, so there’s no need to summarise it here.

The exciting question is the publication model for ICALP: will the EATCS flagship conference stay with Springer’s LCNS series (or some transformation of it) or not? I blogged about this last year, from the 2010 assembly:

Monien explained the EATCS council wants to get this right, ICALP is a big steamer, should not go in zig-zag course, and stick to its decisions. He was unsure if the next poll will be implemented in the Fall, but promised “beginning of next year, at the latest.” I’m not holding my breath.

Well, the Fall of 2010 has come and gone. The EATCS council had another meeting during ICALP 2011, and Monien summarised the decision. Here’s what I was able to jot down quickly from his presentation:

  • The decision is between Springer and the LIPIcs series and will be decided by the members of EATCS by a ballot “at the end of the summer.”
  • The EATCS Council recommends to go with Springer.
  • The poll will include the following documents: The proposals from both Springer and LIPIcs. The recommendation of the EATCS council. A dissenting opinion from a minority in the Council. A list of pros and cons.
  • The final decision is made by simple majority among EATCS members. A quorum of 25% is necessary.

For a quick calculation, the report currently lists 787 EATCS members. So some 200 members would need to respond. Get out the vote!

As a sign that times are changing, the ICALP proceedings were online and digitally available to all conference attendees at the time of the conference. Splendid.

Name Tags

I obsess about name tags.

ICALP 2011 chose the neck band solution, which I derided in a brilliant piece of investigative journalism Post ALGO 2009.

In the comments of that post, G. Philip suggested to print names on both sides of the tag, so as to increase the probability of legibility close to 1. Remarkably, this was exactly what the organisers had done!

(Again, enterprising conference attendees managed to defeat the good intentions. The lunch tickets happened to fit exactly in the name tag pocket, so that with probability close to 1/2, the tag showed the name badge, and with probability close to 1/2, it showed lunch tickets. Incidentally, lunch tickets also had your name on them, but only printed on one side. Thus, in total, attendees were identifiable with probability around 3/4.)

But the big problem with neck bands is that the name badge ends up below table height during lunch and also otherwise is awkward to inspect.

The layout of the ICALP 2011 badge is fair. A good part of the real estate is actually taken up by the attendee’s name. Also, accents were correct as far as I could tell.

In fact, the organisers chose to display first names in larger size, giving the event a friendly touch. I like this. However, during a thoughtful lunch conversation, somebody (I don’t know who because his name tag was dangling below the table) mentioned that the last name is more useful for striking up conversations. Especially newcomers would prefer to know that they’re talking to Turing instead of Alan.

I’m undecided about the name size issue. Maybe another EATCS poll can decide it.