[Disclaimer: I am one of the assistants supporting the RACES’12 organizers and a PC member.]

The organizers of RACES’12 experiment with a new approach to organize an academic workshop. They slightly change the meaning of the program committee, the reviewing process, and the decision making on the final agenda for the workshop. The main goals are to elevate some of the restrictions dating back from the pre-internet age as well as giving more power to the workshop attendees and their interests. Thus, the program committee advises the attendees rather than making actual decisions. The full rational is outlined in their Call for Participation.

Most interesting for me is the decision to have signed reviews and to make the reviewed paper drafts as well as the reviews public before the workshop. As mentioned before, the main reason for this approach is to give the attendees a chance to inform themselves, guided by the reviews, and enable them to decide on the workshop’s agenda. Since everyone has different interests and preferences, which is true for a classic program committee members as well, it seems to be a good idea to have the attendees have a say in what they want to spend their time on during the workshop. Consequently, attendees can vote on presentation length for all submissions. They can use the program committee’s assessment but if they disagree can vote independently of it, of course.

Since I was part of the program committee, I got the chance two read and review two interesting papers. Below you’ll find the summaries of my reviews and links to the papers and full reviews.

All in all, I found this approach an interesting one, perhaps how it should be in the age of the internet and Web 2.0. However, it remains to be seen how successful it is in preparing a great workshop. We will see that in October at SPLASH’12.

How FIFO is Your Concurrent FIFO Queue?

Andreas Haas, Christoph Kirsch, Hannes Payer and Michael Lippautz

Haas et al. assess the FIFOness of concurrent queues by assuming zero execution time for all operations. They introduce the metrics element-fairness and operation-fairness for this assessment and show in their argumentation and experiments that queues with relaxed semantics can have properties that could be considered more FIFO than queues with strict semantics.

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Beyond Macho Parallel Programming?

Paul McKenney

McKenney argues that we need approaches for parallel programming that neither patronize developers nor require so much intimate knowledge that they become impractical for a wide range of applications. He makes the point that other ‘expert-only’ ideas and technologies became mainstream as well, benefiting greatly from advances in tooling and education. Thus, what we consider ‘expert-only’ today might well be part of the mainstream in the future. However, he also argues that these macho approaches as he calls them, guide and shape innovation and are necessary for progress.

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