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Guest post: COLT 2022 Call for Open Problems

The tireless Clément Canonne is the open problem chair for COLT 2022. He asked to share this call for open problems. Please submit your best!

The 35th Annual Conference on Learning Theory (COLT 2022), to be held in London on July 2-5 and remotely, will follow in the footsteps of previous editions and feature an Open Problems session, where attendees can present their open problems and suggest them to the learning community — and possibly offer prizes for their resolution! (After all, a little incentive goes a long way…)

The deadline to submit an open problem has been extended to Monday June 20, 4pm PDT. If you have any nagging question or stubborn problem, please submit them!

More information and CfP:


Social at STOC 2021

I’ve been asked to pass along a message by Clément Canonne, social chair for STOC 2021. This STOC might have the best social program of any I’ve ever seen, either virtual or in-person, so be sure to check it out!

STOC’21 is around the corner, starting tomorrow; [don’t forget to register](, if you haven’t yet! This year, the (virtual) conference will include several social activities (games, TCS trivia, mystery hunt…); among which, two “junior/senior lunches,” on Monday and Friday.

Those both will be held in the Gather space for STOC (, and — as in previous years — are the occasion for senior researchers in the field, broadly construed, to have an informal chat with students, postdocs, and junior faculty, answer their questions, discuss their research, and generally have a nice conversation.

If you are interested, don’t forget to sign up! This is done through the “feedback box” placed on the Information Desk in the Gather space’s Lobby, which gives access to a spreadsheet.

Hoping to see you at STOC!

Learning Theory Alliance and Mentoring Workshop

Surbhi Goel, Nika Haghtalab, and Ellen Vitercik are the organizers of an excellent new initiative called the Learning Theory Alliance. They have the following inspiring mission statement:

Our mission is to develop a strong, supportive learning theory community and ensure its healthy growth by fostering inclusive community engagement and encouraging active contributions from researchers at all stages of their careers.

Their first event is a mentoring workshop, to be held at ALT 2021. I’ll be helping out by mentoring the creation of some written ALT highlights. Read on for more details from the organizers.

We are pleased to announce the first Learning Theory Mentorship Workshop in collaboration with the Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory (ALT) 2021 to be held virtually on March 4-5, 2021. The workshop will focus on building technical and networking skills while giving participants an opportunity to interact with fellow researchers in the field. 

The workshop is intended for upper-level undergraduate and all-level graduate students as well as postdoctoral researchers who are excited about the possibility of learning theory research. No prior research experience in the field is expected.

We have several planned events including:

  • How-to talks which will provide general advice about giving talks, structuring papers, writing reviews, networking, and attending conferences.
  • A small group discussion dissecting a short talk with feedback from a senior researcher.
  • An informal and interactive “Ask Me Anything” sessionwith a senior member of the learning theory community.
  • General audience talks about recent learning theory research which will be accessible to new researchers.
  • Social events such as board games.

Our lineup includes Jacob Abernethy, Kamalika Chaudhuri, Nadav Cohen, Rafael Frongillo, Shafi Goldwasser, Zhiyi Huang, Robert Kleinberg, Pravesh Kothari, Po-Ling Loh, Lester Mackey, Jamie Morgenstern, Praneeth Netrapalli, Vatsal Sharan and Mary Wootters.

Together with Gautam Kamath, we will also organize a written account of ALT titled “ALT Highlights” which will summarize the research presented at ALT. We will assist students and postdocs to set up interviews with presenters and keynote speakers as part of the highlights.

A short application form is required to participate with an application deadline of Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Students with backgrounds that are underrepresented or underserved in related fields are especially encouraged to apply. We will be accommodating all time zones. More information can be found on the event’s website:

This workshop is part of our broader community building initiative called the Learning Theory Alliance (advised by Peter Bartlett, Avrim Blum, Stefanie Jegelka, Po-Ling Loh and Jenn Wortman Vaughan). Check out for more details and to sign up to volunteer.

Surbhi Goel, Nika Haghtalab and Ellen Vitercik

SODA 2021: Funds for Student Registration Fees

UPDATE: An update from Shang-Hua Teng:

Dear TCS Students:

SIAM has today reopened the application portal for SODA21 Student Registration Waiver. The new deadline will be this Friday, January 8 at 11:59pm EST.

SODA21 will be held virtually on Jan. 10 – Jan. 13, 2021.

Please note that having paper(s) in SODA and its associated Symposiums is not a requirement. For this year’s application, the letter of recommendation from advisors is not required as well. The goal of the support from Google, Microsoft, and ACM is to increase opportunity for students to attend this premier TCS conference.

Looking forward to seeing you in SODA’21.

ORIGINAL MESSAGE: Please see below for a message from Shang-Hua Teng, regarding the possibility of waivers for SODA 2021 registration for students.

Dear TCS students:

By now, it is hard to overestimate the impact of the COVID19 pandemic to society. However, like every challenge, it has created some opportunities. For example, essentially all major conferences in TCS this year have been transformed into virtual ones, making them more accessible to scholars/students across the world (of course at the expense of traditional interactions). 

ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA21) will be held virtually this year, on Jan. 10 – 13, 2021. As you may know, this is the premier conference on algorithms .


Thanks to our industry partners and ACM SIGACT group, SODA has some funds for covering student registrations. I am writing to informing you this opportunity and encourage you to apply:
That deadline is Dec. 27, 2020. Like before, having papers in SODA is not prerequisite.

Shang-Hua Teng
On Behalf of SODA Steering Committee

Virtual STOC 2020 – Behind the Screens

In order to assist organizers of other virtual conferences, the general chairs of STOC 2020 (myself, Konstantin Makarychev, Yury Makarychev and Madhur Tulsiani, with input from PC chair Julia Chuzhoy) wrote a detailed document describing the design and execution of the conference. I personally felt the conference went about as well as it could have gone, and despite many moving parts, there were minimal technical difficulties.

The guide is available here: Virtual STOC 2020 – Behind the Screens.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below, or join in the conversation on Twitter.

STOC 2020 Goes Virtual!

Starting on Monday, STOC is joining the trend of conferences going online, I believe the biggest theory conference to do so thus far. Given my experience with TCS+, I volunteered to lend a hand with the organization and logistics. It’s been a journey (with some unusual technical challenges), but I think we have something which I hope will be engaging and generally a lot of fun. In addition to the typical academic component, we also have a social component planned as well. We learnt from the work of others, including the ACM virtual conferences guide, ICLR 2020, and WAGON. I may make some version of our logistics docs available to others after the conference, so others can learn from our experience as well. Anyway, read on for an announcement from me and the other General Chairs, Konstantin Makarychev, Yury Makarychev, and Madhur Tulsiani. See also the main STOC page for a more complete list of credits.

Dear fellow theorists,

As you already know, STOC 2020 this year will be a virtual conference. If you are interested in attending the conference, but haven’t registered yet, please do so soon (students: $25, regular: $50). This will help us ensure we have capacity for various online events. 

Upon registration, you should receive a confirmation email from CVENT, also containing access information for various conference events. Also, if you are a student looking to register for STOC but the cost is a burden, please email us at

How will the conference work?

  • Videos: The videos for all conference talks are now available on YouTube, and can be accessed through the links in the conference program. Registration is not required to view the talks on Youtube.
  • Slack: The conference has a Slack workspace, with one channel for every paper and workshop, and additional channels for information, announcements, social events, help, etc. The invitations for the Slack workspace will be sent to registered participants. Authors are also encouraged to monitor the channels for their papers. All access information for the conference will also be available here. The workspace is currently active, and will remain active for at least one week after the conference.
  • Zoom sessions: The conference will feature Zoom sessions with short presentations by the speakers. The total time for each paper is 10 minutes. Given that participants have access to the full talks by the speakers on Youtube, these can be thought of as being analogues of poster sessions. The workshops will also be held as separate sessions. The links for the Zoom session via information in the confirmation email.
  • Social events: The conference will include junior/senior “lunches”, breakout tables for impromptu and scheduled hangouts, and a group event using The timings for the events can be found in the conference program. Sign-up links for various events will be sent to all registered participants – please do sign-up soon!

See you all at (virtual) STOC 2020. Please do let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.