Mary-Claire van Leunen
If your ideas are bad enough all on their own, you needn't worry about this advice. Banality, irrelevance, plagiarism, and plain old madness will get any abstract rejected, no matter how good it is. Similarly, if your ideas are brilliant, pointed, original, and sane, you have a hard road aheadof you. Even the worst abstract may not suffice for rejection Program committees differ in their standards. If, however, you are like most of us, neither a genius nor an idiot, neither Newton nor Simple Simon, you will have to put some effort into making your abstract suitable for rejection. Here are a few tips we can offer.
This is the basic rule in having your abstractrejected. Don't even start writing it until the deadline for submission is long past. Keep the program committee informed of your progress. E.g.
* "Seems to be a little hole in the proof somewhere."
* "Don't sit on the edge of your chairs."
* "Almost ready."
* "It's a-comin'."
* "Any minute now."
Everyone on the committee is sure to remember yourname when your abstract finally arrives.
The device of sending abstracts to the local arrangements chairman is overused. Try something fresher. Send your abstract to last year's program chairman. Send it to this year's in care of the school where he did his undergraduate work or, better yet, to the school that turned him down for tenure. Send it to someone whose namesounds a little like his. Under any circumstances, be sure to send it postage due.
Grossly exceed the maximum length requirements.
Most extended abstracts should be eight to twelve pages long, or between 1,500 and 3,500 words. Your aim, then, should be for at least 10,000 words. (Read symbols aloud to count how many words they are -- don't count characters.) There are several interestingvariations on this ploy.
Submit a seventy-page paper with instructions to the program committee to read the first twelve pages. Be sure page 12 ends mid-section, mid-paragraph, mid-sentence.
The Monster from the Black Lagoon:
Submit a twelve-page abstract with thirty pages of appendices. Be sure there is no way anyone can understand the body of the abstractwithout reading all of the appendices. By-far the easiest way to accomplish this is to introduce your own utterly idiosyncratic notation. 1+1 = 2, for instance, will in your notation be written
1 2 1*.
z| > ^
The King Kong:
Submit an eight-page abstract of 20,000 words. You may need special typographic equipment for thisone, but don't worry; it exists. With an IBM composer, six-point type, no margins, and no displays, you can write 20,000 words on the head of a pin.
You might think that the opposite strategy would work equally well --- submitting an abstract that falls far short of the minimum requirement. Not so. Look at it from the program committee's point of view. They must read a hundred or moreabstracts in the midst of their other duties. Mere brevity after all those monster abstracts is going to look good to them.
Vacuity, however, is an excellent technique, and it may be allied with the shortness strategy for a Run Spot Run abstract. Here is a good example:
* We worked in complexity. We proved some theorems. We proved some big theorems and some little theorems.Some proofs were big, some were small. We tried to match up the proofs with the theorems, but we couldn't always do it. Then we were sleepy and went to bed. Good night.
This is a good example but not a perfect one. Substitute ``computer science'' for ``complexity''" and you will see how much room for improvement there is in any abstract, no matter how vapid it may seem at first glance....
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