Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GECCO 2007 conference report

A little late, but I figured I should write something about GECCO, even though so many others have.

I was first author on one paper, which I also presented, and second author on two other papers and a poster, so the conference was quite busy for me. Literally. There was a lot of walking through long corridors, and running back through the same corridors after figuring out a wrong turn had been taken somewhere. Let this be my one comment on the organisation of this year's GECCO: UCL is not a good conference venue. Sure, it's in London, and London is one of the world's capitals and very easily accessible through cheap flights and all that, but UCL is the sort of ancient labyrinth where you would expect to bump into a minotaur at any time. Or at least some trolls, or Jeremy Bentham. There was not a single room where all of the conference attendees could fit at once, severely limiting the potential for these all-important random encounters with other researchers, and some of the talk venues seemed to be ten minutes on foot from each other - if you could find them.

I can safely say that the recent SSCI in Hawaii and CEC in Vancouver were better in at least these respects.

But on to the important question: were the papers any good? Better or worse than CEC?

I don't know if I can, and want to, answer that question. As it is physically impossible to see more than perhaps a fifth of the papers, and I didn't even see that many, it's a bit preposterous to have a firm opinion on that. Also, it is a well-known but seldom-talked-loudly-about fact that there is a certain unhealthy animosity between CEC and GECCO, and I don't want to isolate myself from any of these communities. I suppose it's fair to say that the quality is at least comparable but with the conferences having slightly different focus, with somewhat more of e.g. GP and EDA on GECCO, and somewhat more of the stuff I'm most interested in (e.g. games, robotics, neural nets) on CEC.

Then again, one could make the argument that both of these conferences have their entry barriers set a bit too low. That's why I like the GECCO's approach to not treat poster presentations as full papers, in order to enforce more of a separation between contributions of different quality, but I would rather see that the oral acceptance rate was lowered a bit, so that some of the less original studies that were now presented as full papers were accepted as posters instead. Just my 2p.

Oddly enough, I don't know which papers won the best paper awards. They were presented in a session so early in the morning that no-one could reasonably be expected to attend, and the actual awards (as opposed to the nominations) are not to be found on the GECCO homepage. No-one seems to have blogged about it, either. My own picks for two of the tracks would be the paper on HyperNEAT by David D'Ambrosio and Ken Stanley, and the paper on learning noise by Michael Schmidt and Hod Lipson; the first because it is a really cool new idea which might initiate a new paradigm in developmental systems (in addition to the cell chemistry and graph rewriting paradigms), and the second as the general idea might prove to be very useful for modelling the dynamics of physical robotic systems, something I've become rather intereseted in myself recently. As for the other tracks, I didn't see all the best paper nominees, so I don't really have an informed opinion.

Does anyone of you actually know which papers won the awards?

8 comments:

JJ said...

I'd have quite a few comments more on the organization... and no, I don't know who won either, but somebody has posted a plate in Flickr.

Togelius said...

JJ, I intended to go to the EvoBloggers meeting by the way, after you told me; it was just that I couldn't find it! I managed to find the little sign once most people had left the reception area, but then it was already too late. Well, maybe next time...

JJ said...

I couldn't attend either... I discovered that it was at the same time as the poster session I had my poster in. Maybe next time (but not in GECCO)

David said...

I had fun at GECCO 2007 despite its problems, mainly because this is the first EC conference I've ever attended. The lack of food really did bother me though, considering how expensive food is in London and how much the conference pass was.

Here is my trip report, which includes a section about GECCO 2007:

http://oranchak.com/?p=353

David said...

This is David D'Ambrosio. Thanks for the kind words Julian, but unfortunately I didn't win. Joe Reisinger won in GDS, but he had a much better domain than me so I congratulate him. I don't really remember the others since I was barely awake; important events should not be held so early.

Togelius said...

David, thanks for this piece of information - I still have to read Joe's paper properly, but I expect it to be good stuff, as he's a smart guy...

David said...

They finally posted the paper winners on the GECCO 2007 site:

http://www.sigevo.org/gecco-2007/best-papers.html

milf said...
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