OOPSLA 2001 - Doctoral Symposium - FAQ

Orignally compiled by Satoshi Matsuoka, Tokyo Institute of Technology. Currently maintained by Doug Lea, SUNY Oswego.

1. What benefits do I get by participating in the doctoral symposium?
The biggest benefit is to obtain, in one day, constructive and acute comments as well as criticisms from external peers who have had long experience of object-oriented research, thus helping you to do better research towards your eventual Ph. D. thesis. Although you already have a very capable thesis advisor, it is always beneficial to obtain outside opinions, as after a while both you and your advisor may have gotten so used to thinking about your work that obvious technical values as well as pitfalls may be being overlooked. The mentors will also give helpful advice in order to improve your presentation, not only the content but the style thereof, allowing you to perform better in your future job interviews. That is to say, the mentors are quite experienced about behind-the-scenes situations of thesis defenses or job interviews, and will give advice based on their knowledge.

There are also other practical benefits:

2. What do I do besides giving a presentation?
You also will listen to the presentations by other students, and are welcome to ask questions as well as give constructive comments. There is also a very nice dinner the night before the symposium to get acquainted with one another and the mentors. You will also be served breakfast and lunch, courtesy of OOPSLA.

3. I don't have a thesis proposal yet. Can I still attend the symposium, but not give a presentation?
Unfortunately, no. Wait until you have a thesis topic, and apply then.

4. I am applying to be a student volunteer; what happens if my schedule as a volunteer conflicts with the symposium?
Although you could simultaneously apply to both the doctoral symposium and the student volunteer program, you will lose your student volunteer status should you be accepted as a doctoral symposium participant. This is to allow as much student participation as possible under OOPSLA sponsorship. Your application status to the student volunteer program will not affect your chances of selection for doctoral symposium, and vice versa. You still receive some benefits of a student volunteer, as noted above.

5. Can I participate in the symposium partially (like, half a day)? I have something else to do in the afternoon.
Again, this is not possible, as it is essential for the student not only to give his own presentation, but also listen to the presentation by the others, and give comments. It is such synergetic and dedicated participatory atmosphere that has made the past doctoral symposiums successes; you will likely not regret having invested your whole day there.

6.. I have presented at the past OOPSLA doctoral symposium. Can I still apply?
You can, but you will have to make a strong case for it in your application. Generally, precedence will be made to people who have not attended before.

7. What have the past students said about the symposium?
For the past four years, I have been a mentor at the doctoral symposium at OOPSLA. The responses by the students have been overwhelmingly positive, that people have thoroughly enjoyed the participation. In fact, I have never heard any negative comments --- just some comments for improving things here and there. This is despite that students often receive acute criticisms of their work. Reponses generally are of the form "I have never thought of my work from the viewpoints as had been pointed out", "I really got some good ideas for future work from the discussions", "Now I see how to make a point in the presentation", etc.

8. I have a paper at a workshop or the main conference. What good will it do for me if I participate and present here in addition to my other presentation?
There are quite a few differences. First, a workshop or the main conference presentation will be concerning your particular paper, whereas at the doctoral symposium the presentation and the discussion topic will be your whole thesis work. Secondly, the mentors will not be just someone with an interest in your work, but rather, have a specific mission to improve your thesis work, and thus will ask questions and give critical comments in order to fulfill that objective. Thus, the discussions will be much broader as well as being much more comprehensive. Thirdly, the mentors will give advice about your presentations, including non-technical issues such as the slide style, tone of voice, and what people will look for in your defense and your job interviews. You are strongly encouraged to have a poster presentation, which will expose your work to general peers during the conference.

9. Who have been past mentors?
The past doctoral symposium chairs and mentors include Toby Bloom, Craig Chambers, Dennis Kafura, Gregor Kiczales, Gary Leavens, Mary Loomis, Satoshi Matsuoka, John McGregor, Eliot Moss, Oscar Nierstrasz, Allen Parrish, Mary Beth Rosson, Rebecca Worfs-Brock, amongst others. All have been great contributors to the OO community, not only for their academic work but also their service to the OOPSLA / ECOOP as conference/program chairs, conference organizers, workshop leaders, etc.

10. I am a foreign student. Could I still participate? My English is not that good, so I am afraid of not being able to follow the discussions.
By all means, you are very welcome. OOPSLA itself is an international conference hosting numerous people from various countries. In fact, the past doctoral symposiums have had quite a number of foreign participants, quite successfully, including people from Europe (Belgium, UK, Germany, etc.), Asia (China, etc.), South America (Brazil, Argentine, etc.), and Africa (South Africa). In fact, it is a great opportunity for students from abroad, since typically there would be less opportunity at home for presentation and intense discussions compared to those at OOPSLA. Mentors are quite helpful in helping you most effectively express the contributions of your work in an English presentation. Also there will be reimbursement for your travel and lodging, which is also a big plus for you in order to attend OOPSLA and see the other activities going on in your research area.