NeurIPS 2021 Call for Competitions

Douwe Kiela, Barbara Caputo, Marco Ciccone

This year will mark the fifth year of NeurIPS having a dedicated competitions track!

The competition and demo chairs for 2021 are Douwe Kiela, Research Scientist at Facebook AI Research (FAIR), and Barbara Caputo, Full Professor at Politecnico di Torino, where she leads the Visual and Multimodal Applied Learning (VANDAL) group, with the help of Marco Ciccone, Ph.D. candidate at Politecnico di Milano.

Douwe brings his experience as co-organizer of last year’s Hateful Memes Challenge, an ambitious project that had 100,000 USD in prize money and the aim of improving multimodal reasoning and understanding with a clear societal benefit. He works in natural language processing and multimodal machine learning. Last year, Douwe was very impressed by the broad range of competitions organized in NeurIPS and the very strong sense of community that emerges from collectively organizing and participating in a competition.

Barbara is an expert in Computer Vision and she is on a mission to enable robots to learn autonomously about objects in an open-ended way. She brings her experience as organizers for three years of the ImageCLEF challenge, the evaluation forum launched in 2003 for cross-language annotation and image retrieval. Barbara was greatly impressed by the quality of the past competitions and believes in their crucial role in scaling machine learning algorithms, especially for acting safely in the real world.

Marco is thrilled to give his contribution to NeurIPS and help Douwe and Barbara with the organization of the track. During his Ph.D., he actively participated in challenges on video object segmentation and adversarial robustness, which he considered fundamental testbeds to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his research.

What’s changing?

Not much! Hugo and Katja did an amazing job last year, and we hope to continue building on that. We’d like to try to make sure that the whole world is represented in the challenges that we organize, especially promoting causes that use AI to help the most disadvantaged people in the world. Technological advances in our field have the potential to disproportionately hurt the most marginalized people in society — including people of color, people from working-class backgrounds, women, and LGBTQ people. We believe that these communities must be centered in the work we do as a research community. Hence, we very strongly encourage proposals from people with these identities or who are members of other marginalized communities, as well as proposals expressly designed to benefit these groups.

How does a competition work?

It’s quite simple, really: after the submission date, competition proposals will be reviewed and accepted competitions will be announced to the public in early May. Generally, the competitions will run from then onwards until the end of October. Competition organizers supply any necessary data and/or additional resources, and take on the job of making the competition a success. During the conference, competitions will have dedicated sessions where winners, organizers, and other participants can discuss the competition outcomes.

Competitions are a great way to build a research community around a topic, to encourage people to work on things that you care about and to just generally have fun tackling interesting problems together.

Where can I find the call?

The call is available here.
Submissions for proposals are now open on CMT.
Don’t miss the deadline on 31st March 2021 23.59 AOE!

Please feel free to reach out to if you have any questions! We look forward to your proposals!

Douwe, Barbara & Marco

Further reading and resources: