DAC Is Starting To Heat Up

How to write a good technical paper that your peers actually will want to read.


As we reach the midpoint of summer, it’s time to kick back and enjoy vacation and the sunshine. But don’t get too relaxed, because paper submissions are just around the corner.

Turning up the temperature on paper submissions
Last week I introduced you to DAC’s two technical program co-chairs Sharon Hu and Rob Aitken. They lead our technical program committee, a world-wide volunteer network of distinguished researchers. If you have followed my blogs so far, you know how important volunteers are to DAC and how much I appreciate their incredible commitment and effort. More than 150 reviewers rigorously scrutinize and thoroughly discuss each and every paper in a blind peer review process. The final selection is based on both the level of contribution the paper’s research makes to advancing design automation overall and clear articulation of such contributions.

This year, the call for papers goes live mid-September. So while you are sunning at the beach or hiking in the mountains, it’s not too early to think about preparing your submission.

There’s no doubt that it is an honor to have your research paper selected by the technical committee, but for those new to DAC, it’s a tough bar to clear. Based on previous years, here are some useful tips to improve the likelihood of your paper being accepted.

Relevant topics are hot
Your topic should be of keen interest to the conference attendees and the design automation industry as a whole. Avoid ones that are tired and have lost their shine. At the same time, stay away from those that are too futuristic. It’s important to look through previous, relevant research before deciding on your topic. The best subjects address challenges that are either:

  • 2 to 5 years ahead of mainstream design;
  • Provide a new angle on an existing problem;
  • Or are based on emerging technologies with demonstrated promising prototypes.

Cool, clear introduction
The technical committee needs to quickly understand what problem the paper intends to solve. It is crucial to crisply state this in the initial 3 to 5 paragraph introductory section. Take some time writing this section to ensure clarity. Otherwise, you could leave the impression you are not sure of what you want to say. Or even worse—that you don’t have much to say, period.

Make your citations shine
Put your paper in the context of related research work with citations. Don’t just list prior research. Instead, weave a compelling story with the citations that creates a clear path to your proposed approach. This shows that you have a firm grasp of the subject and enhances your credibility.

Showcase your sizzling technique
It is important to describe your brilliant methodology so it is readily understandable and can be replicated. Provide specifics, but make it concise and informative. You want your audience to be nodding in understanding…not nodding off.

Sweat the details
It’s absolutely essential to include a robust set of quantifiable data. This is the most difficult and time consuming part of creating a paper for DAC. It can be challenging to create experiments that generate sufficient data, plus finding the time to gather the data and organizing them in meaningful way in the paper. But remember what Thomas Edison wrote: genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So get ready to break a sweat!

We get so many strong submissions and I wish we could accept all of them. But if you stick to these general rules, your submission will be a hot commodity with a very good chance of being selected. Best of luck and be sure to keep cool! Go DAC!

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