Wednesday, November 23, 2011

News from the LICS Community

Here is some news I just discovered by looking at the web page for LICS 2012.

Highlights and changes for LICS 2012

  1. Starting 2012, LICS is jointly organized by ACM and IEEE, and is cosponsored by ACM SIGACT and the IEEE Computer Society's Technical Committee on Mathematical Foundations of Computing.
  2. In response to concerns about LICS becoming overly selective with a too-narrow technical focus, the program committee will employ a merit-based selection with no a priori limit on the number of accepted papers.
  3. LICS 2012 will continue the tradition of pre-conference tutorials that was initiated in 2011. This year, Jan Willem Klop will give a tutorial on term rewriting systems and Andre Platzer will give a tutorial on logics of dynamical systems.
  4. Special Events and Invited Lectures: There will be an invited lecture by Robert J. Aumann, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and a plenary session in honor of Alan Turing on the occasion of his centenary, with talks by Robert L. Constable, E. Allen Emerson (co-winner of 2008 A. M. Turing Award), Joan Feigenbaum, and Leonid Levin. 
These are very interesting developments for the LICS community, some of which should be of interest for the TCS community as a whole.

Development A above paves the way to the formation of an ACM Special Interest Group on Logic in CS, say a SIGLOG, about which I have heard reports in private conversations with key players in the LICS community. Such a special interest group would play an important role in the development of volume B TCS research in North America.

Development B is most interesting and might be a watershed event, if it pans out. LICS plays the role of FOCS/STOC for the volume B TCS community and I believe that all of TCS will be interested in observing the outcome of the LICS 2012 experiment. Typically, the quality of an average LICS submission is very high and this new policy might encourage even more submissions to the conference than usual. How will the PC handle these submissions? Will the conference move to parallel sessions? Will this development decrease the value of the "LICS currency"? Will other conferences follow the lead of LICS, if the experiment "succeeds"?

Time will tell. In any event, this is a courageous step taken by the LICS conference and I look forward to seeing how it will affect the conference and the LICS/TCS community.

Last, but not least, items C and D above look exciting. I have heard from several sources that the tutorials at LICS 2011 were a resounding success. (See here, here and here for the slides used by Prakash Panangaden, one of my favourite speakers, in his tutorial on Semantics. Albert Atserias gave a tutorial on Finite Model Theory.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Standards for promotions

My department is developing its strategy for the next five years. As part of this strategy work, we are working on a "promotion strategy" and we are discussing standards for promotion to associate and full professor positions. Needless to say, there is a wide array of opinions amongst my colleagues on this point. In order to obtain a broad survey of current best practices, let me ask any reader out there:
  • What does it typically take to be promoted to associate and full professorships at your institution? 
  • What role does teaching performance play in such decisions? And how is it measured?
  • What are the incentives to undergo a promotion process, apart from the obvious ones like tenure and possibly higher wages?
Thanks in advance!

Dr. Cimini, I presume

Last Friday, Matteo Cimini successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled Contributions to the Meta-theory of Structural Operational Semantics. Congratulations to Dr. Cimini! I expect that his thesis will be available on line soon, but, for the moment, you can read some of the papers that form the bulk of that tome.

A PhD is not enough, however. I wish Matteo the best of luck for his future career.