How to Submit a Proposal
We solicit proposals for programs approximately two years in advance of the start of the program. We invite all members of the Theoretical Computer Science and related communities to send us their most ambitious ideas, for consideration at our Scientific Advisory Board meetings, which convene annually in February and August. To ensure that your proposal is considered, it needs to be received no later than December 31 (of the previous year) for the February meeting, and June 30 for the August meeting. Proposers are strongly encouraged to contact a member of the Institute leadership well in advance of this deadline to get preliminary feedback on the program topic.
Proposals may be for standard, semester-long programs, for longer (one-year) programs, for shorter summer clusters, or for more experimental events such as short intensive programs or workshops. Proposals should indicate any constraints or preferences for the timing of the program. The following figures give a rough idea of the scale of a typical semester-long program. The program is run by a group of 4-6 Organizers, who oversee the scientific content and issue invitations to others to participate in the program. Most of the Organizers are expected to be in residence for the duration of the program. Programs typically have around a dozen senior (faculty level) visitors who spend the full semester at the Institute, with another 10 or so long-term visitors (who spend a month or longer) in residence at any given time. In addition, programs also include 6-8 "Fellows" (junior scientists within at most five years of PhD), 5-15 visiting and local graduate students, and a Law and Society Fellow (if relevant). The program would typically include three week-long workshops during the semester, each of which attracts around 50 additional people. There will also be an intensive introductory course (or "Boot Camp") at the start of the program, and a week-long reunion workshop one year after the end of the program. A typical summer cluster might run for six to eight weeks, with around 25 long-term visitors, and might include one workshop. The Organizers receive a budget that is intended to provide expense support for visitors, based on need.
The Institute is committed to identifying programs that can potentially lead to substantial advances in the field, rather than "business as usual." In keeping with this objective, we particularly encourage programs that bring together two or more distinct groups of researchers with related interests (some of which may lie outside Theoretical CS) who do not generally collaborate on a regular basis; programs that seek to define an agenda for a relatively new subfield; or programs that propose a novel and timely attack on major open problems. The proposal should outline clearly the connections of the program to the theory of computing.
We welcome proposals in any reasonable format. As a guideline, however, we would expect a proposal for a semester-long program to include the following elements:
- Program description (scientific scope, including a discussion of its potential impact both within and outside Theoretical CS, its timeliness, and its ability to significantly advance an area in ways that could not be achieved through standard collaborations and meetings) – about 3-4 pages in length. References to relevant literature should also be included.
- Brief (one paragraph each) descriptions of three workshops to be held during the program; for each workshop, please indicate potential organizers (may include one or more Program Organizers, or may be disjoint), and a list of potential additional attendees. (It is assumed that most of the long-term program participants will attend the workshops as well.)
- List of Program Organizers: 4-6 leading scientists, who together span the topics of the program and most of whom are committed to spending all or most of the semester at the Institute.
- List of other likely senior attendees: this should include other faculty-level visitors who will be invited to visit the program for extended periods (at least one month, preferably longer); please indicate which of these you have already contacted and which anticipate spending all or most of the semester at the Institute. Please reach out to us for information regarding the level of support we offer to program visitors as this may be useful information to share in contacting potential visitors. Proposers are also encouraged to discuss limitations on budget and space with one of us before contacting potential participants.
- List of potential junior Fellows: the program will have 6-8 of these; most of these positions will be left open for recruitment in an annual competition, but some may be pre-allocated in consultation with the Institute; this category may range in seniority from graduate students who are expected to graduate before the start of the program through junior faculty (up to five years post-PhD).
- List of potential Law and Society Fellow candidates, if relevant.
- List of invitees (junior and senior) who will further the Institute's goals of promoting the participation of women and under-represented minorities in its programs.
Since it can be a considerable amount of effort to write a proposal, we will also consider a shorter (1-2 page) pre-proposal which will allow us to evaluate whether the topic is suitable for a semester-long program. If a pre-proposal is approved, then we will consider a full proposal in the next round of review. Pre-proposals should still include names of the organizers, scientific justification, plans for workshops, and possible program participants. However, it is not necessary to contact potential program participants in advance.
Submitting your Proposal
Proposals should be emailed as a single PDF document to any or all members of the Institute leadership listed below, all of whom will be happy to answer questions or assist with the development of proposals.
- simonsdirector [at] berkeley.edu (Shafi Goldwasser), Director
- simonsassociatedirector [at] berkeley.edu (Sandy Irani), Associate Director
- venkatg [at] berkeley.edu (Venkat Guruswami), Senior Scientist