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Paper Submissions Break NeurIPS 2019 Paper Submission System

The Microsoft Conference Management Toolkit (CMT) that leading machine learning conference NeurIPS 2019 uses to process academic paper submissions failed in the countdown to yesterdays's 1 p.m. PT submission deadline.

The Microsoft Conference Management Toolkit (CMT) that leading machine learning conference NeurIPS 2019 uses to process academic paper submissions failed in the countdown to yesterdays’s 1 p.m. PT submission deadline. Conference organizers blamed an overwhelming volume of last-minute submissions and responded by extending the deadline by two hours.

Although Microsoft CMT is regarded as one of the most reliable conference management and peer-review systems, a number of researchers and students reported that CMT server outages during the 20-30 minutes before deadline left them unable to upload their paper submissions. A CMT webpage message read: “You are currently not allowed to perform this operation. Please contact your conference chairs”.

This was devastating news for those who had yet to submit their papers or wanted to make changes to their already-submitted documentation. Posts of frustration and desperation flooded popular social media channels such as Twitter, Slack, and WeChat.

IBM AI Research Engineer Tom Sercu tweeted he was unable to upload his submission to CMT for 20 mins, this was echoed by other researchers.

Organizers acknowledged the issue in a statement: “IMPORTANT: Due to CMT becoming too slow before the original deadline, we’ve extended the NeurIPS full paper deadline by 2 hours (to 3pm PT).” Google Researcher Hugo Larochelle‏ — who is also a NeurIPS 2019 program chair — tweeted “if CMT had just slowed down a bit, there wouldn’t have been an extension… but it came to a point where it was just producing errors… that seemed like an exceptional enough situation to warrant an extension.”

With the skyrocketing popularity of AI and machine learning, it is likely NeurIPS 2019 will see a record-high number of paper submissions. Stanford University AI Researcher Animesh Garg tweeted “the request limit for the database is 6400 and has been reached.” NIPS 2017 and NeuIPS 2018 received 3,240 and 4,854 paper submissions respectively.

To reduce the strain on CMT, conference organizers also temporarily closed the submission channel for supplementary material such as derivations, data and source codes that authors can provide to support their submissions.

NeurIPS 2019 runs December 8–14 in Vancouver, Canada.

UPDATE:

Conference organizers reopened the submission channel for supplementary material for 24 hours immediately following the two-hour full paper extension. 

They also temporarily re-enabled the uploading of the full papers in CMT from May 24 4 p.m. PT to May 25 4 p.m. PT (for 24 hours) and pushed the deadline for uploading the optional supplementary material to May 26 4 p.m. PT.


Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen

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