samedi 8 décembre 2012

The danger of unbalanced PC

CPAIOR is one of my favourite conferences because it “provides an opportunity for researchers in one area to learn about techniques in the others”.
A few years ago, Jean-Charles complained that there was no PC member from ILOG (now IBM) at CP2008. I agree with him it was not enough considering the role this company plays in the field.
Last year at CPAIOR12, 7% of the CP members were from IBM.
This year it’s 22%. I’m not sure people from IBM will complain any more ;-)

Although I have nothing against this company, I feel a bit uncomfortable with this percentage and I can see some risk there. Let me illustrate this with a tweet from LocalSolver (not IBM) (commercial local search solver):

“Don't publish dedicated heuristic approaches without having tried ‪#LocalSolver on your combinatorial problem: your paper might be rejected!”

I don’t know if this was a joke or not, but to me it illustrates perfectly the danger there is if a same affiliation is over-represented in a PC of a conference. There are other important players (commercial or open-source) also building nice solvers that are not represented at all in this PC committee… (for instance localsolver ;-))

I don’t blame anybody and I like the fact the people from industry are represented in PC. This is only because I like CPAIOR that I make this remark. But I’m sure I’m not the only one looking at the PC members composition before considering submitting a paper and it would be really sad if people don’t submit because they feel uncomfortable with the PC composition.

What do you think should be the maximum percentage of people with a same affiliation in such a conference? Maybe this should be written in the status of the conference?