It has been a bit over 3 weeks since our first post and the composition of the NeurIPS program committee has been taking shape.

We’ve finalized the recruitment of our 52 senior area chairs (SACs). We’ve also recruited 351 area chairs (ACs) and intend on recruiting about 10 or so more, once we have a better sense of which topics are currently less well covered. To get a sense of the expertise currently covered, we will soon be asking SACs and ACs to provide the list of their primary and secondary subjects in CMT (Conference Management Toolkit, Microsoft’s online platform used to support the review process).

As for reviewers, our first batch of invitations gave us an initial pool of 2139 reviewers, which is a good start. We have plenty more candidates to invite (many of whom are being provided by SACs and ACs, as we speak), and in the next few weeks we will be sending many more reviewer invitations.

The Workflow Manager

While this iterative recruitment process might seem easy, behind the scenes it requires a lot of annoying spreadsheet handling and data management. The NeurIPS organizing committee has a specific role for that, called the workflow manager, to help with this and many other tasks. For 2019, Mathieu Germain has agreed to take on this responsibility. The NeurIPS Foundation is also currently in the process of hiring another workflow manager.

In addition to shepherding the many spreadsheets of reviewer candidates, the workflow manager also has their hand in the following tasks:

  • Sending mass emails to authors/reviewers/ACs/SACs before, during, and after the review process.
  • Configuring CMT and verifying that it behaves as intended, on a test site.
  • Running the scripts to match reviewers and ACs to papers.
  • Performing various data analyses required by the program chairs, such as:
    - Finding pairs of papers with suspiciously similar content and that overlap in authors, to identify violations to the dual submission policy.
    - Finding reviewers who have written reviews that are too short.
  • Clustering accepted submissions into coherent poster sessions and presentation tracks.

While taking on all of these responsibilities, the workflow manager is not allowed to submit papers to NeurIPS, just like the program chairs. Thus, taking on this role can be a sacrifice. We should all be thankful to those who are willing to take on this challenge (feel free to thank Mathieu on Twitter, @Ueiht !).

Stay tuned for our next update, again in a few weeks!

Alina Beygelzimer, Emily Fox, Florence d’Alché-Buc, Hugo Larochelle
NeurIPS 2019 Program Chairs

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