Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Deadlines

Human behaviour being what it is, conference proceedings tend to be written only when the deadline is practically elapsed. This can be seen on hep-lat every year. I remember reading somewhere (in PhysicsWorld, maybe?) that someone had studied the number of proceedings submitted per time period as a function of time until the deadline and had found a power-law behaviour. If that is correct (Google fails me for this, and the paper appears not to be on the arXiv), it would show again that even aggregates of (presumably free-willed) humans can be described well by statistical physics (thankfully, because if the free-will theorem is to be believed, spin-1 particles have free will if humans have). Does anyone know what the reference for the power-law behaviour of conference submissions was?

3 comments:

stefan said...

The paper may have been "Conference registration: how people react to a deadline", by Valentina Alfi, Giorgio Parisi & Luciano Pietronero, Nature Physics 3, 746 (2007), doi:10.1038/nphys761 (alas, subscription required for the full text).

This could be a more detailed paper by the same authors (I have not seen it): "How people react to a deadline: time distribution of conference registrations and fee payments", Central European Journal of Physics 7, 483 (2009), doi:10.2478/s11534-009-0059-z.

Cheers, Stefan

Georg v. Hippel said...

Hi Stefan,

thanks!

T Burch said...

there's an interesting related article:

"Positional Effects on Citation and Readership in arXiv", arXiv:0907.4740

appendix A discusses the power-law fitting of citation distributions.