The Computer Architecture/Compilers Conference Map is an indispensable tool in designing a research agenda that has high impact (on your/your adviser’s travel budget). It’s a Google Maps mash-up that plots upcoming conference deadlines on a world map, so you can decide where you’d like to travel and then go about doing some research to get you there. Ah, the scientific method at work!
Update 18 May 2013: Due to moving on from UW I’ve moved the Architecture/Compilers Conference Map yet again, to a permanent, institution-agnostic home at http://archconfmap.com/. It’s previous location(s) should transparently redirect to its new home as well. I’ve also ported the code from PHP to Java running on Google App Engine. Source code is available on github.
Update 24 September, 2012: I’ve moved the Architecture/Compilers Conference Map to a new location, http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~devietti/archmap, to be compatible with home page upgrades here at UW. I’ve updated the links in this post, too.
Previous editions of this site used a manually-maintained database of conference information but this was growing tedious so I decided to help out the site creators (Karin Strauss and Luis Ceze) by automating this process. The general idea was to scrape WikiCFP for calls for papers of various conferences of interest, parse that information and then feed it into the mash-up. Pretty standard Web 2.0/SOA/AJAX/circa-2004 stuff, but this is 2011 so it’s even easier now!
Unfortunately, the search results from wikicfp.com do not contain links to the actual conference websites, only to the WikiCFP call for papers pages. It’s nice to have direct links to the conference sites, but doing so would involve another HTML request for each conference displayed, and each request was taking nearly a second to complete (the initial search request also takes about a second). The simplest thing to code up is to perform these requests serially, but with 8 or more conferences to display on the page at once, that’s several seconds of valuable researcher time spent waiting to see where the international conferences are, instead of doing the research necessary to attend these conferences. I shudder to think at the lost productivity this would entail.
Some unscientific benchmarking on my home machine reveals that the initial page load takes about a second, and fetching each direct conference link takes 700-900ms, but the latency of these additional requests is overlapped. So, if you load the page and immediately scroll down and click on one of the conference links at the bottom (or in the map pop-ups) you’ll go to wikicfp.com. But if you can wait a second (literally) you’ll get the direct conference link. It is humanly possible to trigger this behavior (it took me about 10 tries), but not by any reasonable usage pattern. However, others looking to re-mash this mash-up be warned!
In the future I’d like to get the initial page load time down as well. Since I’ve already used the parallelism silver bullet, I suspect it’s time for caching to make an appearance…