Conference Format

Click here for an agenda-at-a-glance.

General principles

Owning to the COVID-19 pandemic, ECML-PKDD 2020 will be organized as a virtual-only conference.

Details of the virtual conference format are described below. To determine this format, we have been inspired by experiences in a number of other conferences (most in particular by ICLR, who have kindly written down their experiences on what worked and what didn’t work).

Virtual conference format

Guiding principles:

  • All delegates regardless of their time zone must be able to participate.
  • The risk and impact of technical glitches should be minimized.
  • The interactive nature of a conference should be preserved as much as possible, and in some respects even enhanced.
  • Sessions should be kept sufficiently short to avoid fatigue and concentration loss, with frequent breaks.
  • Too many parallel sessions should be avoided.
  • One way-communication (i.e. presentations) should be asynchronous (i.e. pre-recorded).
  • The live meetings should be as engaging, dynamic, and interactive as possible.

Tools used

  • Whova, a virtual conference app, will be used as the central platform for all conference content and interactions. Whova has a rich feature set for conference agenda (in participants’ own time zones), Q&A boards, social networking and message board, zoom and video streaming integration, sponsor features and virtual exhibitor booths, and more.
  • Zoom webinars will be used for the live conference sessions. Zoom webinars can be seamlessly integrated within whova without the need for an additional logon or account. The webinar format diminishes the risk and impact of zoom-bombing.
  • Slideslive will allow pre-recording the vast majority of all presentations in the conference.
  • Additional tools will be used for backstage communications between the organizers, volunteers, and session chairs in the conference.

Virtual conference agenda

Workshop and tutorial days (Monday and Friday)

Workshop and tutorial organizers are given a large amount of freedom in determining how they organize their workshop and tutorial, including regarding the timing, pre-recording or not, etc. Those who wish to organize their workshop or tutorial in a similar way to the main tracks are offered the means to do so by the conference organizers (including zoom and slideslive pre-recording).

In any case, workshops and tutorials will also be scheduled in the conference agenda, accessible through the conference app.

Main conference days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday)

With all talks in the main tracks of the conference pre-recorded and made available prior to the conference for advance viewing, the conference agenda will contain “Q&A sessions” only. These should be considered a replacement for interactive conference poster sessions.

There will be 4 distinct Q&A sessions per day, and each session is held twice, which gives a total of 8 sessions per day. Each paper is thus presented twice, with a 12 hour time difference between both slots: session 1 is repeated as session 5 (i.e. the same papers are presented in both session 1 and 5), session 2 is repeated at session 6 etc. Each Q&A session will consist of 4 “paper Q&As” lasting 20 minutes each, which makes a session 1h20min long.

During the conference, there will be up to 6 sessions in parallel, hosted in what one could consider 6 “virtual conference rooms”. Thus, in total this gives us up to 6 parallel “rooms” x 3 days x 4 sessions per day per room x 4 papers per session = 288 unique presentation slots in the main conference tracks, and each of these presentations is repeated twice. The plenary talks (keynote talks, community meeting) will be scheduled between the normal sessions.

The timetable of the conference can be found here.

Since each paper is presented twice, one of these slots may be at an inconvenient time for the speaker’s time zone. Yet, the organizers will do their utmost to take the time zone of the speaker into consideration in scheduling the Q&A sessions, and hope that any remaining inconvenience is a burden that is acceptable to the speakers, negligible as compared to e.g. conference travel and an associated jet lag.

Each paper presentation will essentially be a Q&A session, formatted as follows:

  • 0-1min: Introduction by the session chair.
  • 1-4min: the first 3 minutes (approximately) of the slideslive video, conceived as a spotlight presentation, will be streamed.
  • 4-19min: a live Q&A moderated by the session chair, and with input from the offline questions in the Q&A board for the contribution.
  • 19-20min: closing by the session chair.

From a technical perspective, the sessions will be organized as a Zoom Webinar. For each paper, the panellists will include:

  • The session chair.
  • The presenting author (or authors) of each paper in the session. All presenting authors are expected to remain present for the full session of 1h20min, and are encouraged to engage in the Q&A also of other papers in their session.
  • Additional members from the conference who have been invited to join the panel by the session chair (e.g. based on their expertise, or based on questions they asked on the Q&A board).
  • A volunteer to provide technical support.

All participants in the conference will be able to take part in the Zoom Webinar via the Whova app. They will be able to ask to ask questions via the Whova Q&A board associated with the contribution.