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Funny (?) things can happen when organizing an ICPR!











Denis Laurendeau—IAPR Secretary and ICPR2002 Local Chair

The deadline for paper submission to ICPR 2006 is getting closer…this reminds me of funny and less funny things that can happen when organizing such an event.  I thought that it could be interesting to take some (electronic) space in this edition of this newsletter to provide readers with some “backstage” information on events that ICPR 2002 Organizers had to go through in organizing the event.

Murphy’s law (1)

In organizing ICPR 2002, the deadline for paper submission was set to December 15, 2001, which was a Saturday.  Nothing special here except that the server of the ICPR 2002 web page with the link to the server for paper submission was subjected to a “denial of services” attack on this precise day! Try finding your computer network manager on a Saturday morning during Christmas time!!!

Murphy’s law (2)

Anyway, we managed to find the network manager and fix the problem so authors could submit their papers. 

Speaking of the December 15, 2001, deadline, the night before—which was a Friday—only 300 manuscripts had been submitted on the server…We were freaking out since the attendance for a break-even budget was set to 600 participants.  Remember that the unfortunate events of 9-11 were not so far away in the past, and we thought that this was the reason for the lack of interest in the ICPR.  We underestimated two things.  It is true that authors submit their manuscripts at the very last minute! It is also true that it is always daytime some place in the Internet world! The result was that by the end of the deadline, more than 1200 papers had been submitted!  Lesson learned:  never underestimate the ability of scientists to procrastinate, and never underestimate the power of the Internet.

Murphy’s law (3)

At some point in the organizing process, we had to send stuff to the printer for preparing the bags, pens and other items that were to be given to participants.  One calm afternoon, I was cleaning up the different directories in my ICPR 2002 file when I found out that the stuff I had sent to the printer for identifying the conference read “International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition” instead of “International Conference on Pattern Recognition”!!! Mixing up CVPR and ICPR could have had a negative impact on my reputation as Local Chair!  Fortunately enough, printers are also very efficient in procrastinating (see Murphy’s law (2) above), and the different items had not been prepared yet…I was thus able to send the right stuff and save my life as Local Chair!

Murphy’s law (4)

The Technical Committee Meeting for preparing the final program of the conference was held in Quebec City in March 2002. The Organizing Committee had sold Quebec City as a very nice city.  When Track Co-Chairs arrived in town, the temperature was near -15C with gusty winds…talk about global warming! I remember seeing a few anxious faces during the meeting! Fortunately enough, the month of August was exceptional and the conference took place during one of the warmest periods of the last 10 years!!! Saved again by the bell (and global warming)!

Talking about Global warming…is something burning? Or...Murphy’s law (5)

ICPR started on Sunday, August 11, 2002,  with tutorials and registration. Strangely enough, the week before the conference, things had been very quiet…no special requests from participants, no last minute details to fix up…very strange feeling indeed. Either everything was fine or the beast was waiting silently to wake up…and it did! On the afternoon of August 9, 2002, a day I would call “Black Friday”, I was cleaning up the different directories in my ICPR 2002 file (remember Murphy’s law (3) above?) when a fire alarm went off at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The building had to be evacuated because there was fire on the roof of the building where my office is located. I had to fight with the fire fighters to be allowed to enter the building to recover all my ICPR files (with bills to pay, receipts, lists of all kinds, etc.)…and my laptop, not to mention the 20 IAPR framed certificates that were to be given to fellows and other ICPR award recipients!!! I managed to save everything and bring the stuff home safely. Fortunately enough, the fire was not serious and my office was not affected by smoke or water…and the conference went very well, I guess.

This is an advice to future ICPR organizers: Murphy’s law is always verified…but its effects are compensated by hard work … and unexpected luck!

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Other glimpses


Published in the IAPR Newsletter


“Technical Committees”, Oct. ‘05

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“Publicity and Publications Committee”, Jul. ‘05

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“The Office of the Secretariat”, Apr. ‘05

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