Program committees, superpages, and compare-by-hash
By val on Jul 13, 2004
Having served on many program committees and having chaired a few also, I know that the hardest part of your job as PC chair is to get people from industry to join your committee. [...]
People from product groups often do not have the time or the interest to join a program committee, and it does not get rewarded within the standard product development work practice, so it would be something they have to do in the evening hours.
The same goes for paper writing by people from product groups, it is just not being done because there is no reward given within the enterprise for such an achievement (e.g. it will not not be a plus on your next performance review). A few papers from industry were written with support from managers, but in general they are volunteer efforts in the evening hours. [...]
In my view it is not as much the program or steering committees that are the problem here. If industry really wants more exposure through conferences they can only do so through investing in their own organization. Make it easier for engineers to write papers and serve on committees, and reward them for doing this.
Why, Werner, were you spying on me during all those weekends I spent reviewing papers down at the local coffee shop?
I couldn't agree more, companies need to encourage and reward participation in program committees and writing papers. Unfortunately, the onus for change still falls on the engineers, as, in general, management doesn't see any connection between conference participation and revenue. I recently gave a talk at Sun on academic publishing and its relevance to Sun's bottom line; feel free to adapt my slides for presentation at your company (or your division of Sun).
And for today's cool systems paper, I give you Practical, transparent operating system support for superpages. Superpages are also known as large pages or multiple page sizes; if you don't already know what I'm talking about by this point, I recommend just reading the abstract of this paper. I really liked this paper because it took what I regard as the correct approach to large pages: the decision about when to use large pages is done entirely in the operating system and requires no application modification at all (no cheating with silly linker tricks or launcher apps), and it improved the performance of a wide variety of everyday applications. The one part of the paper I dislike is the section on using compare-by-hash to detect dirty subpages; see my paper on compare-by-hash for why. Ironically, using compare-by-hash was a performance hit in this case; it frequently is in situations where the data is being compared locally. A draft paper I'm still working on discusses the performance tradeoffs in more detail.