Important Conferences

Now that I’m a PhD candidate, I need to do real research. Come to think of it, it’s really quite amazing that one can make a living by exploring reality in my opinion. I also need to publish my research so it can get peer-reviewed and added to the great knowledge pool of humanity.

In machine learning and robotics, contrary to the long-established sciences like physics and biology, the most prestigious place to publish your research are conferences (or rather conference proceedings1) rather than journals like Nature and Science. In this article, I want to take a look at the most important of those conferences2, both as a reference and to learn more about this new world I’m currently discovering. But first, let’s have a look at what a (academic) conference even is:

An academic conference or scientific conference (also: symposium, workshop, meeting, etc.) is an event for researchers (not necessarily academics) to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals and Eprint archives such as arXiv, conferences provide an important channel for exchange of information between researchers. – Wikipedia

Most conferences consist of a number of presentations, highlighting the key insights from a previously submitted and accepted paper, followed by discussions. There can also be so called keynote speakers who establish the underlying theme of the conference. Further, workshops can be part of a conference, allowing for a more hands on approach to the presented topic. They have their own format for paper submission, often with a lower barrier for acceptance. Conferences featuring both talks and workshops are called double-track.

Conference Timeline3

Artificial Intelligence

February 7 - 12: AAAI

Paper submission deadline: September 5

Acceptance rate: 25.7%4

The conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence is the primary conference on AI together with IJCAI. The 34th of it’s kind took place in New York from February 7th to 12th.

The purpose of the AAAI conference series is to promote research in artificial intelligence (AI) and foster scientific exchange between researchers, practitioners, scientists, students, and engineers in AI and its affiliated disciplines.

It “welcomes submissions reporting research that advances artificial intelligence” such as “search, planning, knowledge representation, reasoning, natural language processing, robotics and perception, multiagent systems, statistical learning, and deep learning”.

It has been held almost annually starting from 1980 in California and subsequently moved through most of the US, though never outside of it.

Machine Learning

April 26 - May 1: ICLR

Paper submission deadline: September 25

Acceptance rate: 33.3%5

The International Conference on Learning Representations is a double-track annual conference on machine and deep learning. It describes itself as “the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence called representation learning, but generally referred to as deep learning.” Though it has to share this spot with ICML and NeurIPS. In 2020 it was supposed to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethopia but had to be moved online due to COVID-19.

ICLR is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of deep learning used in the fields of artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, text understanding, gaming, and robotics.

Since its inception in 2013 in the US it has been held in Canada, Puerto Rico and France.


May 31-August 31: ICRA

Paper submission deadline: September 15

Acceptance rate: 42.1%

The International Conference on Robotics and Automation is the worlds largest robotics research conference together with IROS. Held annually, in 2020 it will take place in Paris (France) from May 31 to August 31.

Next to robotics it also covers advances in the fields of automation and artificial intelligence.

First held in 1984 in Atlanta (USA) it since took place in Japan, Belgium, China, France, Korea, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Singapore and Canada.

Computer Vision

June 14-19: CVPR

Paper submission deadline: November 15

Acceptance rate: 27.5%6

The Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition is the primary conference in its field. It is held annually, taking place in Seattle from June 14th to 19th in 2020.

“CVPR is the premier annual computer vision event comprising the main conference and several co-located workshops and short courses.” It features content from a wide range of topics related to computer vision and pattern recognition and consists of the main conference with talks and presentations as well as tutorials and workshops.

It was first held in Washington (USA) in 1983 and since then has rotated around the US.

Artificial Intelligence

July 11 - 17: IJCAI

Paper submission deadline: January 21

Acceptance rate: 22.5%7

The International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence shares it’s place as most prestigious conference on AI with the AAAI. It’s 29th incarnation takes place in Yokohama (Japan) on July 11th to 17th.

The goal of the IJCAI is the “dissemination of information on Artificial Intelligence” and of “cutting-edge scientific results”. Judging from the accepted papers of 2020, AI still mostly means machine learning though. With an average acceptance rate of 22.5%, declining from 20.5% in 2018 to only 12.6% in 2020, it is probably the most selective conference in this list and even more selective than some highly ranked journals.

While it was only held every other year from 1969–it’s date of birth–till 2015, it has since been held annually in various countries like Japan, Canada and Italy.

Machine Learning

July 12-18: ICML

Paper submission deadline: February 5

Acceptance rate: 29.1%

The International Conference on Machine Learning competes together with NeurIPS for the first place of all conferences on machine learning. In 2020 it is held in Vienna (Austria) from July 12th to 18th in its 37th incarnation.

It touts itself as “[…] the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning.” and features on aspects all around machine learning like “artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics.”

It was first held in 1980 in Pittsburgh (USA) and then moved to Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, China, Israel, Canada, Australia, Scotland and Finland.


July 12-18: RSS

Paper submission deadline: January 31

Acceptance rate: 28.6%8

The Robotics: Science and Systems conference is an annual gathering for researchers and practitioners in the field of robotics. In 2020 will be held entirely virtually from from July 12th to 18th.

The aim of the Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) Conference is to bring together researchers working on algorithmic or mathematical foundations of robotics, robotics applications, and analysis of robotic systems.

It is a relatively young conference, first held in 2005 in the US and subsequently in Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Germany and Italy.

Artificial Intelligence

August 3-6: UAI

Paper submission deadline: February 20

Acceptance rate: 30.8%9

“The Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI) is one of the premier international conferences on research related to knowledge representation, learning, and reasoning in the presence of uncertainty.” It will take place from August 3rd to 6th in Toronto (Canada) in its 36th incarnation.

This topic is dear to me, as I’ve been working on it for my Masters thesis, but its also likely the next big thing in deep learning. As learning systems are being deployed more and more in the real world, they have to cope with its inherent unpredictability.

First held in 1985 in the US, it later moved to Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Scotland, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia and Israel.

Computer Visison

August 23-28: ECCV

Paper submission deadline: March 5

Acceptance rate: 28.3%10

The European Conference on Computer Vision is the European counterpart to the ICCV and is held in those years where ICCV is not. In 2020 it takes place in Glasgow (Scotland) from August 23rd to 28th in its 16th incarnation.

Like CVPR and ICCV, it is a double-track conference with talks, presentations, tutorials and workshops. Topics of interest include all aspects of computer vision and pattern recognition.

It was first held in France in 1990 and then moved to Italy, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria and Scotland.

Artificial Intelligence

August 29 - September 5: ECAI

Paper submission deadline: November 19

Acceptance rate: 26.3%11

The European Conference on Artificial Intelligence is the leading conference on artificial intelligence in Europe and mentioned in the same breath with IJCAI and AAAI as one of three major conferences on general AI in the world. It is held annually and takes place in Santiago de Compostella (Spain) in 2020 in its 24th incarnation from August 29th to September 5th.

Under the motto “Paving the way towards Human-Centric AI” ECAI provides an opportunity for researchers to present and discuss about the best AI research, developments, applications and results.

It is a double-track conference featuring talks, presentations, workshops and tutorials.

First held in 1974 in Brighton (UK) it subsequently moved through all of Europe including Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Greece, Portugal and the Czech Republic.


October 25-29: IROS

Paper submission deadline: March 1

Acceptance rate: 45.6%

The International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, similarly to ICML and NeurIPS in machine learning, competes with ICRA for the distinction of “most prestigious conference in its field” . It is held annually and with its 2020 incarnation taking place in Las Vegas (USA) from October 25th to 29th.

It “provides an international forum for world-wide robotics community to explore the frontier of science and technology in intelligent robots and smart machines”.

It was first held in 1988 in Tokyo (Japan), then moved to the USA, Germany, France, Canada, Korea, Switzerland, China, Taiwan, Portugal and Spain.

Computer Visison

October 27 - November 2: ICCV

Paper submission deadline: March 22

Acceptance rate: 26.1%12

The International Conference on Computer Vision is the second major computer vision conference next to CVPR. Contrary to most other conferences, it only takes place every other year. In 2019 it was held in Seoul (Korea) from October 27th to November 2nd in its 13th incarnation.

Just like CVPR, it is a double-track conference[^4] with talks, presentations, tutorials and workshops. Topics of interest include all aspects of computer vision and pattern recognition.

ICCV was first held in London (UK) in 1987 and moved to the US, India, Greece, Canada, France, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Australia, Chile, Italy and Korea. [^4]: Or is it multi-track then? Don’t know if that exists…


November 16 - 18: CoRL

Paper submission deadline: July 28

Acceptance rate: <30%13

The Conference on Robot Learning is a young annual international conference aiming at becoming the top venue for robot learning research. In 2020 it will be held entirely virtually from November 16th to 18th due to COVID-19.

The focus lies “on the intersection of robotics and machine learning. […] CoRL is a selective, single-track conference for robot learning research, covering a broad range of topics spanning robotics, ML [Machine Learning] and control, and including theory and applications. […] Authors are strongly encouraged to demonstrate how their methods relate to robotics and applications.”

First held in 2017 in the US it has since taken place in Switzerland and Japan.

Machine Learning

December 5-12: NeurIPS (aka NIPS)

Paper submission deadline: June 5

Acceptance rate: 24.8%

The Neural Information Processing Systems conference is one of the most, if not the most prestigious conference for machine learning. This year (2020) it comes in its 34th incarnation and will take place in December 5th through 12th at the Vancouver Convention Center.

It was first proposed in 1986 by The California Institute of Technology and the infamous Bell Laboratories and was an invitation only event. It was introduced as an interdisciplinary approach to biological and artificial neural networks though nowadays the latter is certainly much more prominent with a strong focus on machine learning, artificial intelligence and statistics.

Born in Snowbird, Utah (USA) it has since been held in Denver (USA), Vancouver (Canada), Granada (Spain), Lake Tahoe (USA), Montreal (Canada), Barcelona (Spain) and Long Beach (USA).

  1. “In academia […] [a] conference proceeding is a collection of academic papers published in the context of an academic conference or workshop.” – Wikipedia 

  2. There will be a strong selection bias towards my own interests. 

  3. Almost all conferences taking place in 2020 will be postponed or held virtually due to Covid-19. 

  4. Average 2012 - 2020 

  5. Average 2017 - 2020 

  6. Average 2010 - 2019 

  7. Average 2013 - 2020 

  8. Average 2005 - 2017 

  9. Average 2014 - 2019 

  10. Average 2010 - 2018 

  11. Average 2000 - 2018 

  12. Average 2001 - 2019 

  13. There is only limited data available yet for this conference due to its youth. 

Last updated on June 24, 2020