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Should we let DySPAN die?

May 5, 2011

For those who don’t know, IEEE DySPAN is a symposium on dynamic spectrum access networks. I have to say there is lots I love about DySPAN. It is a perfect size conference – around 200 people. Great people attend and the conversations can be fantastic. I love the fact technology and policy are both included.  I love the fact demos are important. However I have  questions.

Firstly I don’t think the policy and technology mix is working as well as it could. At the plenary sessions the keynotes and papers reflect the mix as intended by the founders of DySPAN. But in the afternoons we split into policy and technology tracks. In the main policy people go to policy tracks and technology people go to technology tracks. Though of course there are exceptions.  First of all I would favour one track the whole day – though of course this would affect IEEE coffers perhaps. I think there is plenty opportunity for pairing of presentations – a technology paper discussed by a policy person and vice-versa. The joint development of papers – in which authors from both sides would agree in advance to collectively work together would be great. I have come to believe this for a while now. Though Tom Rondeau did point out to me today that we on the technology side should not allow policy issues  limit our technical imaginations. Which makes sense. Neither of course should the imaginations of policy people be limited by current technology solutions.

Secondly I think the demos are not really working out as intended. I want to make sure I am being clear on this. The demos in DySPAN are typically high quality. It is VERY difficult to turn ideas into reality in the wireless world. However I know the the intention of creating the demo space was to create a sand-box for experimentations rather than a set of  ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’. The latter is definitely how things now work and we in CTVR are as guilty of the rest in this respect. When Keith Nolan and Tom Rondeau founded the demo sessions it was always his intention we make the demo space a living testament to dynamic spectrum access and cognitive radio techniques – to have the devices in the demo space coexist or compete with each other. We have not achieved this. I stress again this does not take away from the quality of the demos that are presented.

Thirdly, I wonder are there any real new ideas out there? Is there no new idea beyond the idea of dynamic spectrum access itself? Does it matter that there may be no new ideas and that it is all about implementation details? Am I too harsh here?

Finally, and I think we can say this about many many conferences, I am not sure the whole format works anymore. I am tired of rushed presentations followed by one token question. Ok there can be great conversations on the side but is there a way to reduce presentation time (make people read papers in advance and have far fewer papers) and really work at the discussion. Can we situate the advances much better? So rather than just rely on the standard ‘state-of-the-art’ section in the paper get the audience to situate the effort? These questions have nothing to do with DySPAN per say of course, but I wonder if DySPAN can take the lead.

So should we let DySPAN die? Should we make it into something new? Is it fine as is?

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From → DySPAN 2011

4 Comments
  1. Professor Doyle, I’m so glad you spoke candidly about the shortcomings even of a good event like DYSPAN. I blame powerpoint for turning what should be a time for free-flowing debate, with the audience as involved as the panelists, into a series of non-interactive monologues. Isolde Goggin had perhaps the best comment on this when she said: “Power corrupts and Powerpoint corrupts absolutely.”

    Were you at the 5th European Spectrum Management Conference last July in Brussels? I insisted that none of the speakers on our panel (“future challenges and solutions”) should prepare presentations. Instead we each had one minute to ask the most important question that hadn’t yet been raised at the conference. It worked great with lots of passionate and surprising interventions from the floor.

  2. Przemek Pawelczak permalink

    Linda – your comment regarding demos is indeed valid (and recaps what we wrote in our ComMag article). Universities, the main drivers of research in this area (not companies), are not interested in any form of sophisticated implementation. This takes time (and is beyond funding term of any PhD student) and simultaneously does not give any benefit for the university (ergo – won’t give a paper) QED

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