Thoughts on writing paper, as a novice

We have finally finished the draft of our paper for OSDI 2020, a presumably top conference, and this is the first paper I am extensive involved from idea and implementation to evaluation and writing! while hoping that it can be accepted, I just want to save some notes here regarding what I have learned from this experience.

  1. Presentation is perhaps the most important part of a paper. At the beginning, I was in fact a bit worried that the technical depth of the paper might not be sufficient and the central idea might seem a bit simplified; However, by emphasizing the novelty of the use cases and extensive evaluation of improvement, we are able to present to the audience that we have done extensive work to verify the usefulness of the system.
  2. Figuring out the main contributions is crucial to not get tormented into endless thoughts of improvements and extensions. As a software engineer, I think about engineering features such as maintainability, testability and scalability a lot, however, that would, and it did, distract me from focusing on the true contribution we have in the paper. Everything revolves around the main contributions.
  3. Evaluations are in-fact quite important. Well, it sounds obvious if your paper stands on certain evaluation such as case studies, but it seems less obvious that some supporting features for the central case studies also needs to go under extensive evaluations (in our case, it was the throughput and latency benchmarks), I was kinda opposing this work because I felt it was somewhat obvious and unnecessary as I was, ironically, too drawn into by 2). However, it was latter proven useful as an important and handy supporting evidence that our system can function efficiently and properly under various types of workload that requires certain amount of performance. So in conclusion, doing benchmarks are torturing, but necessary 🙂

Hope I can stop myself from falling into some of those traps when I work on the next project, and again, fingers crossed for this one!

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