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December 26, 2009

2009: a year in review

This is it for the year, so here's a look back at 2009, by the numbers.

Papers published (or accepted) on which I was first author or a major contributor: 8
Papers currently under review: 1
Manuscripts near completion: 2
Projects in-the-works: too many to count
Half-baked projects unlikely to be completed: already forgotten
Papers read: >360

Research talks given: 13
Invited talks: 10
Conferences / workshops / summer schools attended: 6
Number of those at which I delivered a research talk: 3
Number of times other people have written about my research: >6
Number of computers purchased: 1

Students advised: 2
Summer schools taught at: 1
Manuscripts reviewed for various journals / conferences: >30
Reviewing requests declined: >30
Program committees: 5

Conferences / workshops organized: 1
Visitors hosted: 18
Grants submitted: 3
Grants awarded: 0
Grants pending: 1

Emails sent: >3483
Emails received (non-spam): >8660
Number of those about work-related topics: >5525

Blog entries written: 35 (this number is about as depressing as last year)
Movies via Netflix: 27
Books purchased online: 33
Songs added to iTunes: 369
Pictures posted on Flickr: 259
Cycling centuries completed: 1
Cars purchased: 1
Major life / career decisions: 2
Faculty jobs accepted: 1
Rings purchased: 3
Weddings: 1

Fun trips with friends / family: >8
Trips to Las Vegas, NV: 2
Trips to New York, NY: 0
States visited (in the US): 8
Foreign countries visited: 3 (China, Switzerland, Korea)
Other continents visited: 2
Airplane flights: 51

Here's to a great year, and hoping that 2010 is just as good!

posted December 26, 2009 09:19 AM in Self Referential | permalink | Comments (4)

December 13, 2009

Workshop: Simplex 2010

I'm on the Program Committee for Simplex 2010, a workshop for the interface between complex networks and computer science. Below is the CFP. Submission deadline is January 22, 2010. The workshop itself is June 21, 2010 in Genoa Italy.

Simplex aims at triggering different computer science communities (e.g. communication networks, distributed systems) to propose research areas and topics that should be tackled from the network science perspective. We also seek contributions from network science that are relevant to solve practical computer science problems. Two types of contributions are foreseen from prospective authors. The first type would consist of use-cases of theoretical tools and methods to solve practical problems. Such contributions should be as usable as possible by practitioners in the related field. The second type of contributions would come from practitioners that have identified a problem that may be solved by tools from network sciences. The point of such contributions is to make the network sciences community aware of the importance of a high-impact problem, and to suggest means by which the problem may be solved by the network sciences community. Both contributions should stimulate interaction between theoreticians and practitioners, and also have high potential impact in either field.

Topics for the workshop include, but are not limited to:

• Design of wired/wireless networks
• Representing and analyzing dynamic networks
• Network robustness to failures and attacks
• Mining of large scale networks
• Forwarding/routing for opportunistic network
• Mobility/connectivity modelling
• Anti-spam and Sybil attacks

posted December 13, 2009 09:57 AM in Conferences and Workshops | permalink | Comments (0)

December 07, 2009

With boundless delight

While visiting Petter Holme in Korea last week, we naturally engaged in a little bit of that favorite past time of researchers: griping about cowardly editors, capricious referees, and how much publishing sometimes seems like a popularity contest. In the midst of this, Petter mentioned an old gem of a rejection letter, now widely quoted on the Internets, but new to me.

This apocryphal rejection was apparently quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education several years ago, but I couldn't find it in the Chronicle's archives; it's also rumored to have been quoted in the Financial Times, but I couldn't find it in their archives, either. Here's a version of it, with some editorial commentary from another source, that Petter shared with me:

Responses from several journal editors seek to hearten authors by noting that an article's rejection may constitute neither a personal rebuke nor disparagement of the article's ideas. However, the following rejection letter from a Chinese economics journal inflicts the same damage as a blunt, two-sentence refusal: "We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity."

A beautifully backhanded rejection, but it smells a little like an urban ("academic"?) myth. Petter pointed out that a Chinese journal would more probably have said "beg you ten thousand times to overlook" rather than just a "thousand times". This stems from the cultural usage of "ten thousand" being equivalent to a very large but unspecified number, while "a thousand" typically just means 1000. If the original rejection was in Chinese, this could simply be a translation error. Or, the Chinese journal might have been being especially mean spirited.

Update 7 December 2009: Dave Schwab points me to a video Cosma Shalizi sent me a few weeks ago, about peer review. Despite the obviously terrible German-to-English translation, it does a pretty good job of summarizing many people's feelings about the vagrancies of the peer review process.

Update 8 December 2009: For many of us with fingers (or whole selves) in the computer science world, it's reviewing season for several conferences. This year, I'm on the program committee for the WWW 2010 conference. Inside some of the recent PC-related emails, there was a link to a brief, tongue-in-cheek article about How NOT to review a paper, in which Graham Cormode of AT&T describes the tools of the "adversarial reviewer." Having recently experienced some of these very tactics (with a paper submitted to PNAS), it's a fun read. I particularly liked his future direction in which he (half) advocates turning reviewing into a blood sport. Too late!

posted December 7, 2009 08:59 AM in Simply Academic | permalink | Comments (2)