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Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity

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A letter from ECCC local office to the Bulletin of EATCS

Goals. ECCC is intended to become a common meeting place of the complexity people on the Internet. The initial idea to create an electronic colloquium for people working in Computational Complexity was to make their life easier in that some professional information (actual research reports, surveys, books, lecture notes, etc.) is collected in one place and can be obtained electronically by everyone all over the world. Today there are several possible forms of such electronic professional forums in various fields: (a) electronic journals, (b) preprint archives, (c) newsgroups. ECCC does not fit exactly into this classification. It is something between (a) and (b) (more like (a)). It is not simple an archive of preprints, since all the reports appearing in the ECCC Report Series are "screened" by the members of the Scientific Board (38 leading researchers in the field) to fulfill some basic requirements. The screening is similar to a selection procedure in a refereed conference. Its goal is to filter the information such that reports which appear in ECCC have a strong mathematical format, contain all proofs, etc. (see "Call for papers" for more information). On the other hand, ECCC is not a usual peer refereed journal since (besides some special exeptions) we do not fully check the proofs, and so on. This is why submissions, when they appearing in ECCC, have a status of a technical report. Shortly, ECCC is a (strongly filtered) collection of pre-publications of ongoing research in Computational Complexity. The possibility that ECCC will initiate a peer refereed electronical journal in the future is also not excluded. But until this happens, it is worth to try such a non-traditional form for a while.

History. The idea about the ECCC arose in autumn 1994. It was supported by many active researchers in Computational Complexity who have agreed to act in the Scientific Board of ECCC. This all happened despite of the fact that most of them are already keeping their load by editing and refereeing activities for other journals. An important aspect in maintaining ECCC is the voluntariness of the whole project: This is true for the refereeing work by the people of the Scientific Board as well as for the work of the local board in Trier which includes the technical support of ECCC. The project is realized by complexity people without any financial support from outside. However, we have to be thankful to the University of Trier providing all the technical facilities.

Report Series. During the starting phase of ECCC, in the last 2 months of 1994, 27 papers got already published in the ECCC Report Series. Then, in 1995, 63 reports were published (see the attached list). These reports reflect a substantial part of research in Computational Complexity. Now, maintaining the ECCC Report Series is the main task of the ECCC. Besides that, fragments of several books where also loaded into the electronic archive of ECCC and are freely available online.

Other services. ECCC also collects other professional information of interest for complexity people. In particular, there is a (growing) list of ``home pages'' of complexity theorists at ECCC. Mathematicans with interest in computational complexity are invited to join this list, too. Another popular service of ECCC is a list of conferences on Computational Complexity, Combinatorics, Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science that includes calls for papers and other relevant information. Besides of this service, ECCC provides a list with many links to, e.g., bibliography data bases, electronic journals, preprint servers, departments. The access statistics show that -- after ECCC reports and books -- these services are most popular among ECCC readers.

Some statistics. In 1995, the ECCC home page had 53.771 visitors (i.e., 150 daily); 3.734 times a PostScript (or DVI) file of an ECCC Report or Book was fetched (approx. 10 files daily). Most requests came from the USA (approx. 20.000), Germany (approx. 10.000), Israel, Canada, UK, Italy, Japan (approx. 2.000-2.500 from each country), Denmark, Estonia, Spain, France (approx. 1.000), and from 45 other countries (from 2 to 800 requests). Other services were used 19.321 times (54 daily). Most popular: Links to books, lecture notes and surveys in Complexity Theory (approx. 4.300), the list of home pages of complexity people (about 2.800) and the list of conferences (about 1.000).

ECCC - Local Office, Trier
January 11, 1996

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