Organizing a Successful Artificial Intelligence Online Conference: Lessons from the 13th Symposium on Combinatorial Search
The 13th Symposium on Combinatorial Search (SoCS) was held May 26 to 28, 2020. Originally scheduled to take place in Vienna, Austria, the symposium pivoted toward a fully online technical program in early March. As an in-person event, SoCS offers participants a diverse array of scholarly activities including technical talks (long and short), poster sessions, plenary sessions, a community meeting and, new for 2020, a Master Class tutorial program. This article describes challenges, approaches, and opportunities associated with adapting these many different activities to the online setting. We consider issues such as scheduling, dissemination, attendee interaction, and community engagement before, during, and after the event. In each case, we report on the approaches taken by SoCS, then give a post hoc analysis of their effectiveness and discuss how these decisions continue to impact the SoCS community in the days after SoCS 2020. This work will be of interest to organizers of similar conferences who may be considering the switch to an online format.