Just got back from NIPS 2006

Just got back in town from the NIPS conference. I’ve been to a couple of Machine Learning conferences before, but this was my first time at NIPS. A couple of papers were very interesting (you can download them at books.nips.cc) :

  • Manifold Denoising
    Matthias Hein, Markus Maier
  • Fundamental Limitations of Spectral Clustering Methods
    Boaz Nadler, Meirav Galun
  • Learning with Hypergraphs: Clustering, Classification, and Embedding
    Dengyong Zhou, Jiayuan Huang, Bernhard Schoelkopf
  • Recursive Attribute Factoring
    David Cohn, Deepak Verma, Karl Pfleger

However, I found the single-track style of the conference boring at times. My interest in the latest results from fMRIs etc. is low right now, so at times there was nothing to do, but mingle or just do nothing. At ICML there is always at least one conference-track that is interesting to me. The poster sessions at NIPS were very interesting, though.

The workshops were more interesting than the conference. Only the room-sizes were misallocated. Some workshops (the one with the big rooms) were rather empty, and the ones I attended were overcrowded. And, of course, the traditional workshop summarys at the end of the workshop were funny. The ones that stuck out in my mind the most were Man vs. Bird from the Acoustic Processing Workshop and the novel applications for the non-linear dimensionality reduction with their swiss-roll video. I got a few new ideas from the workshops that maybe will work out.

Also there were no T-Shirts. At this years ICML plenty of free t-shirts were given out – unfortunately during the reception, which forced everybody to carry their T-Shirts around during the entire reception (it looked very amusing, though) – yet at NIPS all we got was a mug… 🙂

Last, but not least, I’ve heard about the legendary NIPS partys from my friends and had some high expectations :-). Friday night I attended the GURU-party from Garry’s Unbelievable Research Unit, Saturday was the legendary Gatsby-party. Both partys were rather disappointing, so I actually went to check out the nightlife in Whistler instead. The bars and clubs I found were pretty quiet as well. Uh well… I’ve heard from people that Whistler had less people than last year around that time.

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