“I’ll Start My Own Supercomputer Conference”

Remember that moment from Futurama when Robot Bender promises to set up his own theme park? Forget about the theme park, because is seems that we now have several supercomputer conferences. Why? And does it do us any good?

I am a member of the ACM, and in their recent mailing I received news about upcoming events in the field of high-performance computing. What caught my attention was the not-so-major event that, nevertheless, proudly called itself the “International Conference on Supercomputing”.

So I decided to come up with the list of five worldwide supercomputing events.

1. Name: “The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis”.
Location: US
Dates: November, annually
Established: 1988
Website: http://www.supercomputing.org/
Sponsor/partner: ACM, IEEE

2. Name: “International Supercomputing Conference”
Location: Europe
Dates: June, annually
Established: Originally started in 1986 as a small local workshop in Mannheim, Germany. In 1993, became the venue for announcement of the TOP500 list. (link)
Website: http://www.isc-events.com/
Sponsor/partner: IEEE Chapter in Germany

3. Name: “The International ACM Symposium on High-Performance Parallel and Distributed Computing”
Location: US, and occasionally Europe
Dates: mostly June, annually
Established: 1992
Website: http://www.hpdc.org/
Sponsor/partner: ACM

4. Name: “International Conference on Supercomputing”
Location: Various
Dates: mostly June, annually
Established: 1987
Website: http://ics-conference.org/
Sponsor/partner: ACM

5. Name: “The annual IEEE International Conference on High Performance Computing (HiPC)”
Location: India
Dates: December, annually
Established: 1995
Website: http://www.hipc.org/
Sponsor/partner: IEEE, ACM

I am really not sure whether we need so many conferences. There are some benefits: I live in Europe, and it’s easier (and cheaper) for me to visit a conference held in Europe. Besides, if I am thinking about submitting a paper or a poster, I have a choice of conferences so that I can realistically estimate the chances of my work being accepted.

However, this all doesn’t explain why those conferences were created in the first place. Could bolstering someone’s ego be the original reason for the creation? Or just business reasons? Remember that vendors have to be present at all of those events to get a broader brand recognition, and the expenses are then shifted to customers.

Shall ACM sponsor so many similar events? Isn’t this a dissipation of resources? I asked the latter two questions to my ACM representative on 27th November 2012. Still no answer. Will inform you if there are any news.

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