A Welcome and Guide to Virtual ICLR 2021

4 min readApr 26, 2021


By ICLR 2021 Senior Program Chair Katja Hofmann (Microsoft Research), Program Co-Chairs Ivan Titov (U. Edinburgh / U. Amsterdam), Naila Murray (Facebook AI Research), and Alice Oh (KAIST), and Virtual Chairs Hendrik Strobelt (IBM), Matthias Gallé (Naver Labs Europe), Sileye Ba (Loreal), and Marija Stanojevic (Temple University)

The countdown has started — we’re less than 1 week away from kicking off ICLR 2021!

On our side, we cannot wait to welcome you to this year’s virtual conference. The program will be packed with inspiring talks, Q&As, and plenty of opportunity for discussion. Here we give you a first look of what to expect, together with tips on how to make the most of attending the virtual format.

Central to the conference program and planning are our paper authors and attendees. We aim to make the fantastic conference content as easily accessible as possible, and provide a virtual environment where you can engage in the way that works best for you.

From the first day of the conference, all asynchronous content will be made available on the virtual conference site. This includes pre-recorded videos for all 860 accepted papers. You can browse papers, search for specific topics, and discover inspiring content through the virtual interface. Also from day one, we enable rocket chat where you can discuss papers and ask questions to the authors. We encourage you to engage throughout the event.

Complementing the asynchronous content and interaction is our ICLR 2021 live program. This is a round-the-clock program consisting of talks and live Q&As, poster sessions and socials. Our goal: no matter where you are, and no matter what times you attend the conference, there will be inspiring content and plenty of opportunities for engagement for you. Oral sessions with talks and live Q&As alternate with poster sessions and socials to allow you to make the most of the time you spend learning and discussing.

If you need help in accessing any content, or if you have questions regarding the conference, there will be continuous helpdesk support — thanks to the efforts of 200 selected volunteers from all over the world.

The 2021 ICLR live program at a glance

At a glance — here’s an overview of the live content:

At a glance, overview of the ICLR 2021 program
Overview of the ICLR 2021 live program. For details, and timings in your local time zone, please see the full conference schedule.

The full conference schedule is now available on virtual ICLR. Below is an overview of the exciting content to look out for.

Opening and closing: in the conference opening you will meet the organizing teams and learn more about the conference program, while the closing rounds out the conference with a sneak peak of what’s to come.

Invited talks: hear from some of the leading researchers in the ICLR and related communities, who share their perspectives on the field, inspiring ideas, and outlook on the future. You can read more about our invited speakers in our recent blog post, and find them in the ICLR 2021 program Invited Talks overview.

Oral sessions: papers accepted for Oral or Spotlight presentation will be featured here. Sessions consist of talks, as well as live Q&As with all authors. Authors look forward to your questions, which you can submit until and throughout the relevant session through rocket chat.

Screenshot of the rocket chat interface
Rocket chat will be used throughout ICLR 2021 to enable conversations with authors and speakers. This year, you will be able to post your questions for all live Q&As on the corresponding session’s rocket chat.

Outstanding Paper Award sessions: two sessions are reserved for the Outstanding Paper Award winners. The format of these sessions follows that of talks and live Q&As. You can read about the winning papers in our blog post Announcing ICLR 2021 Outstanding Paper Awards. The Outstanding Paper Award sessions take place on May 5, 4PM PDT and May 6, midnight PDT.

Poster sessions: held in Gathertown, these are your opportunity to engage with authors, ask questions and discuss ideas. All 860 accepted papers will be presented here by the authors.

Townhall: the conference organizers and special guests share thoughts about the conference format and wider questions about the future direction of the ICLR community. The townhall session takes place on May 4, 4PM PDT, and will feature short talks and time for live Q&A with all attendees. You can post your questions through rocket chat — we look forward to this discussion with you.

Socials: a great way to meet other attendees, socials are community organized events that take place throughout the conference. We have 28 fantastic Socials with something for everybody: Affinity Group Socials, Competitions, Talks & Panels, Game Events, Group Discussion, as well as places for simply meeting people and socializing. Check out the Socials overview to find those you want to join.

Workshops: taking place on the day after the main conference, workshops provide a more focused venue to discuss emerging directions and exciting trends. You can learn more about workshops on our workshop overview page.

Mentoring Sessions: We will use Mementor to enable ad-hoc mentorship sessions. These are spontaneous web calls that allow mentors and mentees to connect to talk about a specific topic in ML or about research life in general.

Screenshot of the Mementor website
Screenshot of Mementor, which will enable ad-hoc mentoring sessions throughout ICLR 2021.

Throughout the conference, please keep in mind the ICLR Code of Conduct. It is designed to encourage respectful scientific exchange for all attendees, so it is crucial that all conference interactions adhere to it. For more details, please visit Code of Conduct (iclr.cc).

If you’re ready to dive in, we recommend registering today at https://iclr.cc/, and Get Started at virtual ICLR 2021.

A warm welcome and see you 3–7 May at virtual ICLR 2021!




International Conference on Learning Representations