Wednesday, July 06, 2016

STOC Theory Fest 2017 (Montreal June 19-23)

As SIGACT chair I announced at the STOC’16 business meeting that starting in 2017, STOC will turn into a 5-day event, a Theory Fest. This idea was discussed at some length in a special session at FOCS 2014 and the business meeting at STOC 2015. Now the event is being planned by a small group (Sanjeev Arora, SIGACT ex-chair Paul Beame, Avrim Blum, and Ryan Williams; who also get guidance from me and STOC’17 PC chair Valerie King). We’re  setting up committees to oversee various aspects of the event.

Below is a brief announcement from the organizing group about their plans! Please feel free to write your suggestions here, though the outline below has been arrived at after a fair bit of deliberation and consultation.

Update:   Here is the web page for STOC 2017:  (


We’re excited to bring you the Theory Fest in Montreal, June 19-23 2017!

The following are the major features (caveat: subject to tweaking in coming years):

(i)  STOC talks go into 3 parallel sessions instead of two.  Slight increase in number of accepts to 100-110.
(ii)   STOC papers also required to be presented in evening poster sessions (beer/snacks served).
(iii) About 9 hours of plenary sessions, which will include: (a) Three keynote 50-minute talks (usually prominent researchers from theory and nearby fields) (b)  Plenary 20-minute talks selected from the STOC program by the STOC PC ---best papers, and a few others. (c) Plenary 20-minute talks on notable papers from the broader theory world in the past year (including but not limited to FOCS, ICALP, SODA, CRYPTO, QIP, COMPLEXITY, SoCG, COLT, PODC, SPAA, KDD, SIGMOD/PODS, SIGMETRICS, WWW, ICML/NIPS), selected by a committee from a pool of nominations. (Many nominees may be invited instead to the poster session.)
(iv) 2-hour tutorials (three in parallel).
(v)    Some community-building activities, including grad student activities, networking, career advice, funding, recruiting, etc.
(vi)   A day of workshops; 3 running in parallel. (Total of 18 workshop-hours.)

Our hope is that workshop day(s) will over time develop into a separate eco-system of regular meetings and co-located conferences (short or long). In many other CS fields the workshop days generate as much energy as the main conference, and showcase innovative, edgy work.

Poster sessions have been largely missing at STOC, but they have advantages: (a) Attendees can quickly get a good idea of all the work presented at the conference (b) Grads and young researchers get more opportunities to present their work and to interact/network, fueled by beer and snacks. (c)Attendees get an easy way to make up for having missed a talk during the day, or to ask followup questions. (d) Posters on work from other theory conferences broadens the intellectual scope of STOC,

We invite other theory conferences to consider co-locating with the Theory Fest. To allow such coordination, in future the location/dates for the Theory Fest will be announced at least 18 months in advance, preferably 2 years. Even for 2017 it is not too late yet.  

Finally, we see the Theory Fest as a work in progress. Feedback from attendees will be actively sought and used to refashion the event.