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Signal Processing and Optimization Tools for Conference Review and Session Assignment

Anyone who has served as a technical program committee (TPC) chair for a conference (or program manager for a funding agency) understands that paper (or proposal panel) review assignment is a demanding job that takes a lot of time, and reviewers are rarely satisfied with the end results. This article presents signal processing tools for two critical ?mass assignment? tasks: assigning papers (or proposals) to reviewers in a way that matches reviewing expertise to scientific content while respecting the reviewers? capacity constraints and splitting accepted papers (or submitted proposals) to sessions (panels) while adhering to session (panel) capacity constraints. The basic idea is to use feature vectors to represent papers and reviewers.

Features can be key words or phrases (e.g., optimization or sensor networks) or other types of attributes (e.g., timeliness). This viewpoint enables optimal assignment problem formulations that make sense from a scientific and practical point of view. While optimal solutions are hard to compute for a large number of papers and reviewers, high-quality approximate solutions of moderate complexity are developed here using familiar signal processing and optimization tools. These algorithmic solutions easily outperform days of expert manual work as demonstrated in experiments with real conference data.