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Welcome to the October edition of the CORE newsletter.

In this issue I am delighted to announce the annual CORE awards, and give you some updates on plans for the 2022 Australasian Computer Science Week (ACSW).

I will also announce our proposed changes to the awards system and the establishment of the CORE Academy. In addition I will provide an update on CORE conference and journal rankings and some engagement with the ARC over their policy on the use of preprints in grant applications.

In the last newsletter I wrote on my thoughts for Translational Computer Science. Manish Parashar and I are running a new "Department" in the IEEE Computers in Science and Engineering magazine (CiSE) and would welcome articles from people who are working in this way already. Please contact me if you are interested.

As always, I hope you are coping with the negative effects of COVID on both their work and personal lives. If there is any assistance that CORE can provide, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

David Abramson

CORE Awards

We are delighted to announce the winners of the annual CORE awards.

Chris Wallace Research Award

This year's award goes to Dr Nengkun Yu from UTS.

Dr Yu has made groundbreaking contributions to quantum learning theory, quantum program verification and debugging, as evidenced by several publications in high quality conferences such as LICS, PLDI, STOC, and journals such as IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. Notably, his article on `Quantum Abstract Interpretation’ received an ACM SIGPLAN Distinguished Paper Award by partially revolving the scalability problem of quantum programming verification. In addition, Nengkun’s work on ‘Sample-optimal Tomography of Quantum States’ closed a gap between lower and upper bounds for quantum tomography, and was celebrated as a breakthrough result by eminent scientists in physics and computing.  

John Makepeace Bennett Award 

This year's John Makepeace Bennett Award for best PhD goes to Dr Natasha Fernandes from Macquarie University for a thesis entitled “Differential Privacy for Metric Spaces: Information-Theoretic Models for Privacy and Utility with New Applications to Metric Domains”.

Dr Fernandes' thesis on metric differential privacy contributes both theoretical and applied results on parameter selection, comparing privacy mechanisms, inference attacks and optimality.  The thesis organisation is exceptional in the thought put into the narrative for foundations, analysis, and applications of the research contributions.

The panel found the examiners' comments on originality and innovation compelling, in observing that the thesis showed a remarkable level of sophistication and improve[s] considerably over the state of the art, and noting its significance and scale. The panel was impressed by the range and depth of her results. Her approach based on Quantitative Information Flow, and on a new application of geometric ideas in the data privacy setting, allowed for a unified framework for privacy, utility and attacks and new insights for comparing privacy mechanisms. The panel felt that the optimality result of the Laplacian mechanism, and the techniques she had to develop to prove it, are particularly impactful.  The thesis is also exceptionally well presented, not only mathematically rigorous but also enjoyable to read.


CORE Teaching Award

This year's CORE Teaching Award goes to Dr David Chen from Griffith University.

Dr Chen is a passionate educator with a strong focus on evidence-based pedagogical approaches. His course and tool design focus has been on significantly improving student engagement and on removing technological barriers in learning how to program and develop complex software systems. David leads by example and facilitates reflection of others in their teaching practices. He implements innovative practices, tools, and teaching strategies towards significant improvements in positive student attitudes, self-efficacy, performance and experience in programming courses.

John Hughes Distinguished Service Award

This year's John Hughes Distinguished Service Award goes to Steve MacDonell from Auckland University of Technology.
Professor MacDonell has made notable contributions through leadership in education and research and through CORE, ITP and other bodies that are essential to the quality of education, research and professionalism in computing in New Zealand and Australia. He helped establish the foundations of software engineering research as a discipline in New Zealand, being a founding member and deputy chair of Software Innovation New Zealand, contributing to the professional and educational foundations of software engineering through his own research and teaching, and helping define its internationally regarded body of knowledge, SWEBOK. He has lobbied for and provided policy in government circles for funding computing research, and co-led a CORE submission on challenges to ICT funding in Australian and New Zealand. 

He has been instrumental in establishing professional accreditation for IT education programs in New Zealand as founding chair of the accreditation board of ITP professionals. He has been a significant worker on the CORE ranking of conferences and journals, with benefit to the standing of the disciplines of computing and information systems academics and researchers and their home universities, across Australia and New Zealand.


ACSW 2022

While many people, including myself, were keen to move back to an in person meeting for ACSW 2022, COVID has forced our hand yet again, and we will run a fully virtual conference. Plans are now well advanced, and a Web site has been established. The conference will be held in the week of 14 – 18 February 2022.

At this stage we expect following conference streams to be running:

  • Interactive Entertainment (IE)
  • Australasian Symposium on Parallel and Distributed Computing  (AusPDC)
  • Health Informatics and Knowledge Management (HIKM)
  • Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE)
  • Australasian Information Security Conference (AISC)

Each of these will be issuing their own call for papers, so keep an eye out for these. Papers will appear in the ACM Digital Library as in previous years.

Because the conference is virtual we have the streamlined organisation committee, which consists of

  • David Abramson (UQ) - General Chair
  • Andrew Watts (Conference Design) - Organisation, Web site, virtual platform
  • Minh Dinh (RMIT Vietnam) - Proceedings Chair
  • Mashhuda Glencross (UQ) - Posters Chair

Plans are underway to use a new interactive collaboration environment called iSee for the posters. iSee allows virtual attendees to meet and discuss posters using novel video avatars. This environment, originally developed as part of the Smart Internet Services CRC, should provide an enhanced experience for both presenters and attendees. We encourage you to consider submitting a poster, especially HDR students and ECR academics. To encourage this we will be waiving fees for attendees who are only presenting posters.

Because the  production of the ACM proceedings is quite expensive we have set registration fees for presenters of papers at $300 with one such fee required per paper regardless of the number of authors, however, all other registration fees are significantly discounted. CORE will again subsidise the conference to keep registration fees low. 

We will also be hearing from the teaching, research and PhD award recipients at the conference, so please register and come along to support them and celebrate their success.

If you have any ideas you would like to incorporate into ACSW please don’t hesitate to contact me. 


The CORE Academy 

Following discussions amongst the executive, and feedback from CORE members, we have decided to establish the CORE Academy to honor and recognize individuals who have made significant and cumulative contributions to the development of the computing disciplines in Australasia.

Inductees to the CORE Academy will be principal leaders in the computing disciplines in Australasia, whose efforts have shaped the discipline through significant research, and/or contributions as an educator, and/or service as a leader; with those roles primarily carried out while employed by one or more CORE member departments.

Each year, a small cohort will be elected to be inducted into the CORE Academy. Inductees will be celebrated at the CORE ACSW conference following their selection.

Three prominent past computing leaders will be included in the 2022 round of inductions as founding members of the Academy, in recognition of their significant contributions to the computing disciplines in Australasia, and in recognition of their past role as “names” attached to the CORE research, teaching, and service awards:

  • Chris Wallace,
  • John Makepeace Bennett,
  • John Hughes,

From 2022 onward, the three annual CORE awards will not carry the names of those people.This will allow us to honour a greater number of individuals than we have named awards available, and will provide a more scalable and inclusive system.

In 2022, the initial year, a larger number of candidates will be inducted via the nomination/selection process.

The selection criteria and application process will be advertised in coming months.

ARC Preprint policy

Many of you are aware of the changes to the ARC pre-print policy and the effect on current grant applicants.

The CORE executive met with Dr Robert Mun, Executive Director, Engineering and Information Sciences panel and Prof Craig Simmons, Executive Director for Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences panel. Subsequent to that meeting we wrote to the ARC on behalf of CORE members outlining our concerns about banning pre-prints. A copy of our letter can be found here.

Following our meeting and correspondence, the ARC released the following statement, with a reversal of their current policy, namely 

"For future scheme rounds, the Australian Research Council (ARC) will allow the referencing and inclusion of preprints in any part of a National Competitive Grant Program (NCGP) grant application. This includes within the Research Outputs list as well as the body of an application. This adjustment to ARC’s policy position reflects contemporary trends and the emerging significance of preprint acceptance and use across multiple research disciplines as a mechanism to expedite research and facilitate open research, as well as to provide greater equity across disciplines and career stages."

Unfortunately the change in policy does not affect current DE22, FT22, and DP22 applications. However, Dr Mun and Professor Simmons made it clear that applicants would have the normal rights of appeal should they feel that they have been disadvantaged by the process. We are sure affected individuals have already been contacted by their research offices, but we would encourage the lodgement of appropriately argued appeals.



CORE has appointed Young Lee (Macquarie University) to be the Rankings Software Manager, working together with the Rankings Co-ordinator to maintain and develop the tools and systems for CORE rankings.

CORE is looking for a senior academic (or retired academic) at Professor level, to take on the position of Rankings Coordinator, supported by the Rankings Software Manager and an Advisory Committee. The person should have a solid understanding of the processes and philosophy of the CORE rankings and be in agreement with these. They should also have an appreciation of the diversity of the sub-disciplines, and an understanding of the differences between these sub-disciplines. Time requirement is somewhat flexible but is about 5% most of the time, with some more intensive activity at various points in a submission round which happens about every 3 years. Anyone interested in this position can contact for further information.

 CORE is considering discontinuing the journal rankings in order to focus resources on the conference rankings. Arguably the existing rankings of journals from Scopus and Web of Science are more widely used than the CORE rankings. Feedback and discussion of this is welcomed prior to a final decision. There is also a plan to discuss this at the annual HoDs and Profs meeting.