Confessions of a researchaholic

October 3, 2023

Does anyone still remember physical paper submissions?

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:21 pm

I heard some PhD students making fun of the SIGGRAPH dual/conference track format of (at most) 7 pages of texts and figures plus 2 pages of figures only, thinking it is something “new”.

They are too young to realize this is not new at all, and probably very old.
Before I even started my PhD program, the proceedings (1) were physically printed and (2) had separate color pages to reduce costs.
So it was common for people to put all their color figures at separate pages in the end of the paper.

I also remember that the first few times I submitted papers to SIGGRAPH, I had to mail in 6 copies of printed papers and VHS tapes for videos early enough so that they would arrive at the conference office before the deadline (while also late enough to maximize the time I can work on the submissions).
Imagine the horrors of debugging ink-jet printers and video production software/hardware in the 1990s.
I heard the story (not confirmed) that Dennis Zorin (when he was a PhD student) and (his then adviser) Peter Shroeder had a Fedex guy waiting in their office while finalizing their submission(s).
I even hand carried all the physical materials from MSR Asia’s submission to SIGGRAPH 2006 in a large suitcase (like a smuggler) and flew from Beijing to Redmond to reduce the total shipping time.

Nowadays, we can submit everything electronically at the last minute prior to the deadline, with network bandwidth/latency/reliability being the only bottleneck.

August 11, 2023

Acquitting myself fromContinuing review duties for a venue

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:25 pm
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During a recent gathering people have talked about how some of my works have been unfairly treated.
Beforehand I was actually not aware of the situation, in any case these are already published works for everyone to judge, and I don’t see how it could have any tangible impacts on my life and career at this stage.

However, since now it has been brought to my awareness, I feel that I should do something about it for the sake of sportsmanship, as it does not seem proper to leave it as is.
Thus, I have decided to stop reviewing duties for that venue until the situation is remedied.

As far as I remember I have never turned down review/committee requests (aside from potential conflicts) and I am pretty sure I have done my fair share of services for that venue even if I stop right now.
If I want to continue volunteering my time for a cause, I need to know it is at least fair.

Update: I realized that the decision was made by a few individuals who do not necessarily represent the whole community, and in any case this event seems quite insignificant in retrospect. Plus I still enjoy reading and discussing about research, so I have yet to turn down any paper review and committee invitations so far.

August 2, 2023

SIGGRAPH Asia 2023 paper committee meeting

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:06 pm

Some random thoughts after just finished the SIGGRAPH Asia 2023 paper committee meetings:

I am thrilled to see several of my previous students (or “shadow advisees” to be precise) in the committee.
I hope this has been a good experience for them, even though probably not as good as in-person meetings where they can socialize with other committee members.
(Not as an excuse for shirking review duties, but I also wonder if this is a sign that I can fade away from these committee services soon.)

The meeting time is not ideal for people in Asia, and several of them were not able to present their papers.
I wonder if PC members’ time zones can be an additional variable to optimize for the HepCat paper queues for future virtual PC meetings.

Like hybrid work, I wonder if we can have hybrid PC meetings in the future, where some PC members can meet in person while others can join remotely depending on their preferences and budget supports from ACM/grants/institutions.

Given the increasingly large number of submissions, I wonder if at some point everyone in the graphics community will serve in the PC.

July 23, 2023


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:36 am

From a podcast I bumped into this paper about the economics job market rumors (EJMR) forum, which is a place for anonymous discussions about the job market for economists.
I was initially interested in the methodology (in particular reverse hashing) and results in the paper, but then I found the EJMR site itself to be even more fascinating as it sheds more light on human nature than economics (which is already a relatively “well to do” branch of social/political science).

June 15, 2023

Journal AE versus paper committee

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:45 pm

After serving as an associate editor (AE) for a few journals (e.g., ToG, CGF, TVCG) and paper committee members for a few conferences/journals (e.g., SIGGRAPH, SIGGRAPH Asia, Eurographics), here is my personal take on the similarities and differences between the two roles.

Similarities: a main (and probably the most important) task for both is to recruit and manage reviewers.

Differences: an AE does not have to read the papers (even though I read every single one so far just to make sure my final recommendation is sound) and can decide the final recommendation without consulting other AEs, while a paper committee member has to read all the papers and present the recommendations in a committee meeting before the final decisions can be made.

June 12, 2023

How to invite reviewers

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:46 am
Tags: ,

Are you a paper committee paper or journal associate editor (AE) who want to increase the likelihood of reviewers responding positively to your invitations?
Here are some tips based on my own experience:

Instead of a machine-generated generic email, craft a custom message telling the candidate reviewer why you think they are a good fit for the paper, such as their background respect to the topic or specific components of the paper.
You should have this information already when deciding to invite that particular reviewer.

Add some personal greetings such as if the reviewer has a recent job change or life event, a new paper, or someone you both know, which could be found on their social media or personal website.
Do so particularly if you know the reviewer (or someone close to them like their collaborator/advisor) personally.

If you already read the paper, provide some estimation of the time commitment required for reviewing the paper, e.g., “I think it will take you about 2 hours to review this paper”.

If you have accepted review requests from that reviewer in the past, mention this as well as a hint of reciprocity.
This is another reason to accept review requests if you have the bandwidth.

April 26, 2023

Sketch creativity

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:30 pm
Tags: ,

It was told that I would be too run down to have meetings after the surgery, but I managed to come back 10 minutes prior to the start of the seminar and gave a live talk without any issues.
But just as a back-up plan, I also pre-recorded a rehearsal.

April 23, 2023

PhD student recruiting philosophy

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:58 am
Tags: ,

Throughout my research career I have been very conservative in recruiting PhD students, especially for those whom I would be the (de facto) advisor.
(I am a bit more relaxed for hiring interns as the collaborations are shorter term and thus the risks are lower.)
I prefer to have deep involvement for each student and project, and the cost of having a student not suitable for independent research is higher than the risk of occasionally passing on a top candidate.

However, there are other professors/researchers out there who have been very successful in managing large groups.
So definitely go for that if your style is like a VC incubating startups, you have enough funding, and your projects require teamwork (e.g., one student probably is not going to build a new operating system or programming language).

April 18, 2023

Single review paper committee member

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:00 am

It turns out that I only need to review one paper as a committee member for a top venue thanks to “the large number of IPC members”. (Cannot go any lower unless we want to list someone who does not review any paper as a PC member.)

Expanding the committee to include more members can lighten the individual workloads, but also reduce the visibility of each PC member for calibration purposes.
I wonder what the sweet spot would be as a function of the number of submissions and the number of PC members.
1 is definitely slow while 20 is high (based on my recent SIGGRAPH/SIGGRAPH-Asia PC experiences), while 4 to 8 feels about right to me.

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