Posted by: jonkatz | February 9, 2010

STOC acceptances out

The list of papers accepted to STOC 2010 is out. Several interesting crypto and related papers, though many of them are (to the best of my knowledge) not yet on-line.

An interesting observation: I noticed at least one paper got accepted that was rejected at least twice before from “weaker” conferences. (To the best of my knowledge, the content of the paper has not changed. Of course, I could be wrong.) Rather than speculate which PC made the “right” decision and which made the “wrong” decision, or re-hash the arguments about anonymous vs. non-anonymous submissions, let’s just chalk this up as more evidence of the high degree of variability in conference acceptance decisions.


  1. By “weaker” conferences, I certainly hope that you don’t mean Crypto/Eurocrypt/TCC, because I definitely don’t agree with the definition.

  2. A case can be made for the following:

    1. For certain areas in Crypto:
    Crypto/Eurocrypt are weaker than STOC/FOCS, under any reasonable definition of “AVERAGE quality”.

    b. Crypto/Eurocrypt are weaker than STOC/FOCS in terms of average difficulty of getting your papers accepted.

    c. More often than not under any of the two definitions above: TCC is weaker than Crypto/Eurocrypt EXCEPT when you restrict the comparision to top-theory papers of TCC vs top-theory papers of Crypto/Eurocrypt. [whatever be the definition of “top” papers]

    2. For certain other areas:
    STOC/FOCS are weaker than Crypto/Eurocrypt in certain other areas but more often than not, STOC/FOCS focus less on such areas.

    3. There are some (but very few, as far as I — the anonymous — am concerned) papers in Crypto/Eurocrypt which are beautiful and no less than any papers in STOC/FOCS even though perhaps they would not have been accepted in STOC/FOCS. Here is one example:
    Dennis Hofheinz and Eike Kiltz: Practical CCA2 secure encryption as secure as factoring. In Eurocrypt last year, I think.

    Whether people agree or not, this is certainly the perception — at least among the majority of Israel+USA crowd of researchers:
    Crypto/Eurocrypt/TCC are WEAKER than STOC/FOCS.

    And the perceived definition of weaker is that of a weight-lifting competition ;-): It is more difficult to publish in STOC/FOCS than in Crypto/Eurocrpt/TCC.

  3. Also, I think its time that we just learn not to pay any attention to the words like “weaker” and just focus on doing good science.

    People start getting concerned when someone mentions that conference A is weaker than conference B and since these people publish more in B, they start defending their position.

    This is understandable for students/postdocs, since where and how much did you publish is what gets you a comfortable(?) job. But people in positions above that should perhaps learn more quickly not to pay attention to comparisons of this sort.

  4. As a side note: as usual, STOC list of accepted papers was available at the day of notification whereas EUROCRYPT is missing even 2 weeks after notification.

    What does that tell us about the two communities?

  5. That cryptographers have something to hide? 🙂

  6. It may be true that it is harder to get papers into STOC/FOCS, but note that this is not a measure of quality.

    Also, the confusing thing about STOC/FOCS in relation to crypto is that there are several people who publish almost exclusively in STOC/FOCS and yet have no where near the citation counts of some crypto people who rarely publish in STOC/FOCS. Seems that papers in CRYPTO/EUROCRYPT are more visible and better cited.

    So to say that STOC/FOCS is better is to discount citation-based measures in crypto. Is this accurate?

  7. Dear Professor Katz,
    I have a tremendous respect for your work.
    I would like to say that your blog is an important tool for me to be up to date with the crypto community.

    In 2008, I submitted 2 papers and got 1 rejection and 1 acceptance. In the rejected paper, one of the referees demonstrated to have no knowledge or minimun qualification. Oh man … I felt so bad with that rejection. I thought about abandoning the academic life and getting a job in industry.

    So I am too curious. Which paper got rejections before being accepted in STOC? This is a huge learning lesson for me.

    It is something like: “Despite the rejections, you have to keep the game on”.

    I am sorry to ask these questions. That’s why I don’t have anybody here in my college to talk about this stuff.
    (My advisor does not care about those academic stuff, he only cares about providing consulting services for large companies).

    I would also appreciate if some of you, guys, could provide examples of previously rejected papers that were later accepted in competitive conferences?

    Best regards to all

    A certain guy that likes crypto, . . . , again

  8. I was reading a STOC review. The referees commented that though the results were “novel” and the paper touched upon a previously unvisited space, he wasn’t sure that “a generic theory audience would be interested”. While that is perhaps fair enough(?) from the point of view of the scope of FOCS/STOC, the hardness of getting a paper accepted at STOC/FOCS has at times, very little to do with the quality of the work. And it’s not really like Crypto/Eurocrypt or SODA is for retards.

    Also, Every year at STOC/FOCS I see papers of the “Doing XYZ is hard” format. I seriously feel that we need to have some place to archive results like these(ECCC anybody ?). The presentations at STOC/FOCS should be better used to present things like new and innovative models or techniques that benefit from discussion rather than have 5 people listening to how “Zipping my pants in the presence of faults is hard”, while the others sample the free tid-bits of food.

  9. “Zipping my pants in the presence of faults is hard”, i m just laughing my butt off….

  10. I don’t understand why Eurocrypt PC has not made the list of accepted papers available yet! It is really annoying to see why these people do not respect the fact that people wait for such things impatiently. Did you notice that someone’s tweet about “Eurocrypt 2010” “to appear” google search was rated as a popular search recently?

    Program can wait; if some of the papers’ title and author list will change later—thats ok too! You can just mention that it is a preliminary list and subject to change.

    I feel that by now it should be a standard to provide the preliminary list of papers on the website the day the notifications are sent out.

  11. Too many STOC/FOCS paper say very little, and they refer to full versions that are available after years (if at all). How is one supposed to work or improve on those results, if the details are not public?

    IMHO, Crypto/EC/TCC are way better from this point of view.

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