2012Q1 Reports: NAACL

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Report from NAACL, January 2012

Chris Callison-Burch - Chapter board chair

Rebecca Hwa - Past chapter board chair

Christopher Manning - Treasurer

Anoop Sarkar - Secretary

Elections

The NAACL election was held electronically in the Fall of 2011. Chris Callison-Burch was elected Chair, replacing Rebecca Hwa (who remains on the board as past chair). Emily Bender (University of Washington) and Mona Diab (Columbia University) were elected to the board. Kristina Toutanova (Microsoft Research) and Owen Rambow (Columbia University) finished their service as executive board member and past chair.

Here is a list of all current members of the NAACL board: http://www.naacl.org/officers

Executive Committee Meetings

The board communicates regularly via email. The board met in person at the ACL HLT 2011 conference in Portland and it will meet again at NAACL 2012 in Montreal.

NAACL Treasurer's Report

The Chapterʼs bank account held $104,173 at the end of December 2011. The NAACL account has not yet been debited for the huge loss on NAACL HLT 2010.

The NAACL HLT 2010 conference in Los Angeles made a loss of at least $59K (this could actually still even grow a bit if some promised but as yet unpaid sponsorship fails to materialize). This wipes out half of the surplus that NAACL has accumulated in its 10+ years of existence, and which NAACL uses to fund other activities (such as its support for the JHU summer school, NACLO, the LSA Linguistic Institute, NAACL student travel support and regional workshops). This is the first NAACL conference to yield a deficit. There were a combination of factors that lead to the large loss: (i) bad, unrealistically rosy budget projections of attendance and costs, (ii) unexpectedly high catering costs and extra charges from the hotel, (iii) unexpectedly low attendance, and (iv) poor tracking of data as it came in, which should have been able to alert us much earlier that things were not working out as expected. We need to fix at least (i) and (iv). (ii) and (iii) are harder to control, but also to be worked on. We will work to find cheaper venues and are likely to increase NAACL conference registration fees.

Naacl-surplus-and-loss.jpg

North American conference in 2012

NAACL HLT 2012 will be held in Montreal, Canada from June 3 -- June 8 2012. The general chair is Jennifer Chu-Carroll (IBM) and the PC co-chairs are Srinivas Bangalore (AT&T), Eric Fosler-Lussier (Ohio State University) and Ellen Riloff (University of Utah). Sabine Bergler and Guy Lapalme are advising Priscilla Rasmussen who has taken over the responsibilities of local arrangements chair.

The number of submissions to NAACL is worryingly low. There were 199 full paper submissions and 105 short paper submissions. The low turn out could have been due to several factors: (a) there were many good venues this year, (b) ACL and NAACL disallowed dual submission, and ACL's deadline was scheduled to be 10 days later than NAACL's, (c) when faced with a choice between two similar deadlines (no dual submission allowed), people will tend to pick the later one, (d) NAACL's earlier deadline was too close to Christmas and New Year's.

Beyond simply making it more difficult for the PCs to assemble program that achieves the high level of quality that NAACL has become known for, the low number of submissions may jeopardize the financially viable of the conference if we are unable to attract enough registered participants. The collocated events (like the new *SEM conference and WMT) will hopefully increase the number of conference registrations. Given the financial loss of NAACL 2010, we need to be careful when estimating participants and setting registration fees for NAACL 2012.

North American conference in 2013

NAACL 2013 will be held at the Westin in Atlanta in the second week of June (June 9-14). Priscilla Rasmussen will handle local arrangements.

Decoupling NAACL HLT from local arrangements

As NAACL HLT conferences continue to grow, the increased size does add complexity for local arrangements. Although they do have the option to delegate to a professional conference organizer, many smaller institutions are hesitant about taking on the responsibility. No bid was received for hosting NAACL HLT 2012 despite active encouragements from the Board. Thus the Board has begun to experiment with alternative models of local arrangements to further reduce the burden on any particular institution. For 2012 and 2013, the conference sites were chosen by the Board based on the usual location selection criteria (e.g., geographical balance, active CL communities in the area). Then, researchers from the area are invited to serve on an advisory committee to offer suggestions about local arrangement matters. The tradition of calling for bids to host NAACL HLT conferences will continue in the future, but our experiences in organizing NAACL HLT 2012 and 2013 may act as a guideline for those years when no institution comes forth.

NAACL Representative to the ACL Sponsorship Committee for 2011-2012

Michael Gamon (MSR) and Patrick Pantel (MSR) are the current regional representatives (for the Americas) to the sponsorship committee. Patrick will continue to serve in this committee next year.

Support for Summer Schools and Other Educational Outreach

Despite the large loss from NAACL 2010, we still have sufficient surplus to continue our support for NACLO (the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad) and student participation at the summer school during the Johns Hopkins Natural Language Engineering Summer Workshop.