When we agreed to be the TPC Chairs for Interspeech 2015, we were aware of the fact that a lot of work over an extensive period of time was lying ahead of us. We also knew that we would have to rely on many people to create an inspiring technical program: authors, reviewers, area chairs, organizers, etc. It was certainly an interesting and rewarding experience.
We were fortunate to benefit from the experience related to us by the TPC chairs of previous conferences, in particular Interspeech 2013 (Lyon) and 2014 (Singapore). The Singapore team invited us to serve as area chairs for Interspeech 2014 and attend the TPC meeting, which gave us insider information on how to tackle such a complex task as organizing the submission and review process and building a conference program. We are grateful to the Singapore team for offering this opportunity.
Defining the scientific areas is an ongoing process, and previous Interspeech TPC teams have revised the list from year to year. We started from the structure that worked well in 2014 and, after careful consideration, made several changes. We assigned the diverse topics previously subsumed under “resources and evaluation” as subareas to appropriate main areas. Our analysis shows that we are not losing papers related to resources and evaluation but are in a better position to assign reviewers with the required expertise. Furthermore, we introduced a new main area on the analysis of paralinguistics in language and speech, a scientific topic that keeps attracting many submissions but whose subareas used to be dispersed across several other areas.
Our TPC team comprised 40 area chairs, two special session chairs, and one Show&Tell chair. We invited more than 1000 reviewers and 75 backup reviewers who generously provided their reviews at short notice. Overall, 911 reviewers accepted and submitted their reviews. By the paper submission deadline, Interspeech 2015 received 1525 submissions. Revisions were permitted during a period of one week. Quite a few submissions were withdrawn by their authors before the final deadline and some incomplete submissions had to be removed. Finally, 1458 papers – 144 special session and 1314 regular papers – were included in the review process. Each submission received at least three reviews, and the area chairs thoroughly analyzed the scores and comments provided by the reviewers to determine the outcome for each paper. They made every effort to base their recommendations on the technical merit of each paper, taking into account the validity of the review comments, discrepancies between reviewers, inconsistencies between comments and scores, and the level of reviewer confidence.
One issue requiring continuous optimization is the treatment of special sessions, including challenges, in the review process. This year we decided to involve the proposers of special sessions more directly in the review process. They were asked to nominate two reviewers for each submission. In general, the TPC team followed these nominations. The remaining reviewers were selected from the general reviewer pool. Special session organizers were later invited to comment on the reviews, and the TPC team made the final decision based on the reviews and the organizers’ comments.
We adopted the 2014 version of the START v2 paper review system and implemented several changes. One modification concerned the automatic reviewer assignment algorithm, which attempts to match the top-ranking topic of each paper as selected by the authors with the preferred areas of expertise of reviewers. We believe that the changes were beneficial, but it is evident that the reviewer assignment algorithm still needs to be improved to avoid frustration of reviewers and authors caused by suboptimal matches. The START team at SoftConf, led by Rich Gerber, has been helpful and forthcoming, answering our questions, and fixing some of our mistakes, around the clock – thanks, Rich and team!
The final accept/reject decision for each paper was made during a face-to-face meeting of the TPC team in Berlin on May 19–20, 2015, where each scientific area was represented by at least one area chair. The ISCA president, the General Conference Chair and Co-Chair, and the special session chairs also participated in the TPC meeting. A decision for each paper was reached, which required an open discussion and meta-review of a number of papers during the meeting. This meticulous decision process yielded the acceptance of 746 papers, corresponding to an overall acceptance rate of 51% across all scientific areas (range 49–54 %) and special sessions (62 %).
A provisional organization of accepted papers in oral, poster and special sessions was also achieved during the TPC meeting. The technical program comprises 48 oral presentation sessions, 32 poster sessions, 9 special sessions and challenges, and 4 Show&Tell sessions. The program also features 4 plenary keynote presentations, 3 special events, and 8 tutorials. Interspeech 2015 is complemented by a Doctoral Workshop organized by the ISCA Student Advisory Committee, and 9 satellite workshops.
The keynote speeches will be given by this year’s ISCA Medalist, Prof. Mary E. Beckman, on the emergence of compositional structure in language evolution and development; Dr. Ruhi Sarikaya, on the technology that powers personal digital assistants; Prof. Katrin Amunts, on the neural underpinnings of language processes; and Prof. Klaus Scherer, on the signature of personality and emotion in speech.
Organizing the review process and technical program of Interspeech 2015 was a great challenge. We wish to thank the ISCA President, Prof. Tanja Schultz, and the ISCA Board for their support. We are also grateful to the Interspeech 2015 General Chair and Co-Chair, Prof. Sebastian Möller and Prof. Hermann Ney, and the entire team of organizers. We are deeply indebted to our Area Chairs for offering their technical expertise and devoting so much time and energy. We appreciate the work done by the proposers and organizers of special sessions and the leadership provided by the Special Session Chairs, Dr. Anton Batliner and Prof. Björn Schuller. We would also like to thank Plenary Session Chair Prof. Gerhard Rigoll; Show&Tell Session Chair Dr. Georg Stemmer; Tutorial Chair Prof. Alexander Raake; Satellite Workshop Chair Prof. Florian Metze; and Publications Chair Dr. Stefan Steidl. We also wish to thank Dr. Benjamin Weiss and Dr. Tim Polzehl for their support on issues related to technical infrastructure. Finally and especially, we are grateful to the leaders of Interspeech 2014, Prof. Haizhou Li, Prof. Helen Meng and Prof. Bin Ma, for sharing their experience and providing expert advice.
Most of the success of Interspeech 2015 will come from the quality of the scientific work presented. We wish to acknowledge the authors of so many high-quality papers and the dedication of more than 900 experts serving as reviewers of these papers. We hope that you will find the conference program scientifically and intellectually stimulating and are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Interspeech 2015 in Dresden.
Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, Germany
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Germany
Technical Program Chairs