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June 16, 2005

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-- The number of accepted papers has remained virtually constant for 21 years.

So either the field has not grown in 21 years, or somehow we missed the opportunity to grow the conference in proportion with it. Either way, not good.

Observe that the number of acceptances did not go up when the applied track was created. In other words, we invited the neighbors to dinner but we did not place any extra settings at the table.

JeffE

I agree. We missed a good opportunity.

Perhaps the biggest reason that the number of acceptances did not go up in 1997 was the choice of location. The conference site in Nice ( http://www-sop.inria.fr/prisme/scg97/Carrefour.html ) had one large conference room), making it impossible to add parallel sessions. One one point during the planning stages, after seeing the huge number of submissions, the organizers toyed with the idea of adding an extra day to the conference. I don't recall why that didn't work out, but I suspect it was primarily logistics. Nice is a very popular place in June; reserving the conference site for an extra day, with only six months advanced warning, may have been simply impossible.

Nobody expected the number of submissions to DOUBLE.

To cope with the flood of submissions, more than 30 ten-page submissions were accepted only as short communications, each with two pages in the proceedings and no talk. Despite the absence of any real alternative, this was not a popular decision with anyone. Communications were not supposed to be a dumping ground for results that weren't good enough to be "real" papers. Short communications were voted out entirely that year.

The question of how to deal with the extra submissions was the hottest topic at the business meeting. Add more days? Add parallel sessions? Shorten some or all of the talks? (Raimund Seidel seriously suggested limiting each talk to five minutes. After all, people don't go to conferences for the talks, but for the social interaction.) In the end, the community voted by a bare majority to expand the conference to four days, to keep talks at 20 minutes, and not to add parallel sessions.

The 1998 and 1999 conferences WERE four days long, but for some reason the program did not expand significantly. In 2000, the program went back down to three days.

For more insight into the discussion, check out the SoCG business meeting minutes from 1996 ( http://compgeom.cs.uiuc.edu/~jeffe/compgeom/files/scg96-minutes.html ), 1997 ( http://compgeom.cs.uiuc.edu/~jeffe/compgeom/files/scg97-minutes.ps.gz ), and 1998 ( http://compgeom.cs.uiuc.edu/~jeffe/compgeom/files/socg98minutes.html ).

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