Thursday, July 12, 2012

ICALP 2012: First two days

ICALP 2012 is taking place at the University of Warwick. The programme is action packed, with many highlights and prizes. There are three tracks with 123 selected papers (71 for track A, 30 for track B and 22 for track C) out of 432 submissions (248 for track A, 105 for track B and 79 for track C). The acceptance rate was therefore around 28.5%. In addition, there are five invited talks and on day two David Harel delivered a Turing talk.

The conference is being attended by 210 participants (146 regular and 64 students).

There is so much going on that it is hard to give a detailed report on the scientific activities. I will thus limit myself to a few short remarks on some of the highlights of the first two days of the conference.
  • The first two invited talks were delivered by Stefano Leonardi (Sapienza University of Rome) and Berthold Vöcking (RWTH Aachen). Both speakers focussed on algorithmic aspects of auctions. Stefano's talk was entitled On Multiple Keyword Sponsored Search Auctions with Budgets, while the talk by Berthold dealt with Randomised Mechanisms for Multi-Unit Auctions
  • Leslie Ann Goldberg delivered a very inspiring talk on her joint paper with Mark Jerrum The Complexity of Computing the Sign of the Tutte Polynomial (and consequent #P-hardness of Approximation), which received the best paper award for track A. Leslie brilliantly conveyed her enthusiasm for this amazing polynomial even to a layman like me, and gave us a glimpse of the rich mine of information that the Tutte polynomial contains about a graph. (W. T. Tutte also figured prominently during the very instructive excursion to Bletchley Park we enjoyed yesterday.)
  • Manfred Kufleitner presented his joint work with Volker Diekert, Klaus Reinhardt and Tobias Walter that received the best paper award for Track B. Their truly remarkable result settles a long-standing open problem in formal language theory and may be found in the paper Regular Languages are Church-Rosser Congruential.  
  • Tuesday saw an excellent Turing talk by David Harel on three strands of his research over the years that have been influenced by Turing's work.  I enjoyed it a lot and I finally got a chance of hearing David Harel deliver one of his trademark talks. 
  • The Presburger award went to Venkatesan Guruswami (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh) and Mihai Patrascu (AT&T Labs). Venkat gave a talk that highlighted the web of connections that arise in his work and how tools from one area can find application in another one. He ended his talk was quoting the title of a talk by Avi Widgerson, namely "Depth through breadth". Mikkel Thorup gave a heartfelt presentation, describing Mihai Patrascu's work and personality. Several participants took photos for the Cheers to Mihai! web site. 
  • The EATCS general assembly lasted until 8.50pm. Kurt Mehlhorn gave a very entertaining and thought-provoking report from the PC chairs. He said, amongst other things, that the submission data show that Track A researchers like to work in pairs or triples, Track B people like to work in pairs and that Track C papers are typically co-authored by a group of people. 
  • ICALP 2014 will be held at the IT University in Copenhagen with Thore Husfeldt as general chairs. SWAT 2014 will take place just before ICALP and you will be able to enjoy the Copenhagen Jazz Festival too!
The conference is being organized by Artur Czumaj and his team. Kudos to them for having done a truly excellent job. Thanks to all of them!

I will try to post a telegraphic report on the rest of the conference as soon as I have a little time. I hope that other ICALP participants will share their opinions on the conference and their short reports as comments to my quarter-baked posts. 

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