Wednesday, April 7, 2010

HotOS XIII Call for Papers

I am pleased to announce that the call for papers for the Thirteenth Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (aka HotOS XIII) has been announced. I am fortunate to serve as the program chair and we have put together a fantastic program committee for the workshop, which will be held from May 8-10, 2011 in Napa Valley (think good wine and fantastic food... No promises yet on whether Thomas Keller will be doing the catering). While it's a long ways off, it never hurts to start thinking ahead about what you want to submit! The paper deadline is January 15, 2011.

A few words about HotOS and my own philosophy behind the workshop. HotOS has been the flagship venue for bold new ideas in the systems community over the years. It is often the first place that we hear about new projects and exciting ideas, and it's also a place for grad students to float their crazy thesis plans before submitting full papers to places like SOSP and OSDI. Just to be clear on the format: HotOS submissions are five-page position papers, which are not to be confused with miniature versions of full conference papers (i.e., with half-baked ideas and none of the graphs). The best submissions to HotOS are those that challenge widely-held assumptions, make a clever or unorthodox argument, and get people thinking and talking. In my opinion, the ideal HotOS paper has a strongly-worded idea that gets people working on new problems, without concern for how practical the idea is in the short term. Graphs and early prototype results are actually a negative here -- if your idea has progressed to that point, it is probably not a good candidate for HotOS.

One common complaint about HotOS is that it is sometimes heavily loaded with "SOSP preprints," and indeed, there is a pretty high conversion ratio from HotOS paper to SOSP paper in the same year. Not everyone thinks this is a bad thing and I agree this does serve a certain purpose. As program chair I plan to exert my influence to keep things focused on the bleeding edge, but I also respect that different members of the TPC will have their own taste for different styles of papers.

Beyond the technical content, HotOS serves an important role of building ties between members of our community, and especially to help grad students get a chance to engage, mano a mano, with more senior folks in the field. Mentorship is an incredibly important part of the workshop. I'll never forget my first HotOS and the chance to bat around ideas with such luminaries as Jay Lepreau. There is also a fair bit of, shall we say, enology involved at HotOS, which certainly makes things more interesting (distributed hash tables have never been more fascinating!). There is a huge difference between meeting folks at a 400+ person conference versus a small workshop where people are more likely to let their guard down.

I want to build upon this tradition and make HotOS more inclusive to new folks and less-represented research groups. I am going to be on the lookout for unusual, bold, oddball papers from outside of the "conventional" systems community, with the hope of shaking things up a bit, but it's safe to say that there will be plenty of familiar faces as well. If you have a nutty idea, by all means submit it. I'm going to try to tease apart novelty from "solid work" in the reviewing process, and take a range of papers that have different kinds of strengths. We'll also be inviting some folks who don't submit papers at all just to be sure we have a good mix of disciplines and groups represented.

If you have thoughts or suggestions for HotOS, please feel free to drop me a line or post comments here. And I look forward to your submissions!


  1. This is the most energizing CFP I've ever seen, particularly for grad students. Thanks Matt!

  2. Michael MitzenmacherApril 8, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    Does this mean you'll perhaps be more open to more theoretical papers, where there may not be a plan for an implementation -- indeed, it may not be clear how to implement the underlying idea -- if it fits your criteria: "challenge widely-held assumptions, make a clever or unorthodox argument, and get people thinking and talking."?

  3. Your plan is admirable, but I speculate it's hard to reject a 5-pages "summary" of a soon-to-be SOSP paper in favor of a genuine position paper. I'd therefore be rather surprised if you achieve your goal; though I certainly hope you would. One thing is for sure though: it'd be easy to measure your success. Good luck!