Last year, tickets to the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) Annual Conference sold out in under 12 minutes. With sales opening in Pacific time, this short window of availability created challenges for participants from Eastern time zones, people with slow internet connections, and students who had to take the extra time to upload their student IDs.

This year, NeurIPS registration will change from the prior first-come-first-served model to a randomized lottery. In addition, some tickets will be held back from this lottery to ensure authors of accepted papers and those creating content for and around the conference are able to attend and take part in the event that their thought leadership is helping to create.

Between September 6th and September 20th, those wishing to attend the conference from the public (those not contributing to the conference or any of its affiliated groups) will indicate their intention to register for the conference and desire to purchase a ticket by signing up for the lottery.

On September 20th, conference officials will randomly distribute invitations to register as there is capacity in the building. The invitation expires in 2 weeks. If, after 2 weeks, we have physical space to accommodate more attendees, we will repeat the process until the capacity is full.

Registrations and tickets will be withheld from the lottery for the following content creators: authors of accepted papers, workshop presenters, demo and competition presenters, invited speakers, top reviewers, volunteers, program and organizing committee members, session chairs, and breakfast mentors. These groups consume the majority of available tickets. Given the size of the conference center, it is estimated that 3800 tickets will go to authors, 2400 to reviewers, 1200 to presenters in workshops, 1000 to participants in co-located affinity group workshops, and 600 to conference sponsors. The conference expects that about 3500 tickets will go up for sale to the general public through the lottery. Many reviewers and area chairs will not register; their tickets will be added to the lottery after their 2 week invitation expires.

It’s very encouraging that we’re seeing so much excitement surrounding NeurIPS in the community of artificial intelligence and machine-learning practitioners To continue to grow and evolve with community demands, we’re adopting this new approach to distribute access opportunities fairly across time zones and differences in digital accessibility.

The board and the organizing committee are constantly trying to think proactively about resources and sizes of venues, but it has become clear that the physical space that we have secured for the conference will not be able to accommodate the expected demand. We need to create a more agile solution that can level the playing field for all who would like to attend.

Counter measures are in place to prevent people from signing up for multiple tickets and from people transferring tickets to another user. People who attempt to transfer tickets will lose their registration.

The Vancouver Convention Center, where the conference will be held, can accommodate approximately 13,500 people. However, conference officials are still awaiting confirmation from local officials as to how many attendees the event will be approved to have. The full capacity of the Vancouver Convention Center represents a 68% increase in capacity from the The Palais des congrès de Montréal the conference center in Montreal where the conference was held in 2018.

Lee Campbell

Director of IT, Neural Information Processing Systems Foundation

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