Virtual Workshops at ICLR2020

5 min readApr 3, 2020

ICLR2020 is going to be fully virtual this year, and so too are the ICLR workshops. Our changing conference format creates a great deal of uncertainty and pressure on workshop organisers, and ICLR is doing all we can to support workshops that are fun, create a long-lasting archive of their activities, and can explore different ways of creating virtual workshops that can provide insight into the future of such events across our field.

👷 The 2020 Workshops

We’re confident that we will be able to provide a useful, meaningful, and intellectually stimulating workshop experience, even though we will not be physically co-located. We are looking forward to our virtual workshops which will be a mix of pre-recorded talks, asynchronous engagement, and live engagement through Q&A and in-person video calls.

Visit the websites of all 15 of our virtual workshops:

  1. AfricaNLP — Unlocking Local Languages
    Showcase work on NLP for African languages, which are typically low resource languages, and bring it to a global audience.
  2. AI for Affordable Healthcare
    Highlight recent advances in AI for enabling, democratising, and upholding high standards of healthcare worldwide.
  3. AI for Earth Sciences
    Bring cutting edge geoscientific and planetary challenges to the fore for the machine learning and deep learning communities.
  4. AI for Overcoming Global Disparities in Cancer Care
    Identify the potential of AI to overcome global disparities in access, diagnosis, and treatment in cancer care.
  5. Beyond “tabula rasa” in reinforcement learning: agents that remember, adapt, and generalize
    Bring together researchers from different backgrounds working on how to extend current RL algorithms to operate in changing environments and tasks.
  6. Bridging AI and Cognitive Science (BAICS)
    Inspire connections between AI and cognitive science across a broad set of topics.
  7. Computer Vision for Agriculture (CV4A)
    Expose the progress and unsolved problems of computational agriculture to the AI research community.
  8. Causal learning for decision making
    Investigate how much progress is possible by framing the learning problem beyond learning correlations, that is, by uncovering and leveraging causal relations.
  9. Integration of Deep Neural Models and Differential Equations
    Where theoretical and experimental researchers can come together to join forces towards the goal of integration of deep neural networks and differential equations.
  10. Fundamental Science in the era of AI
    How can AI help deal rigorously with the data deluge of “big science”? How can AI help amplify the social impact of fundamental science?
  11. ML-IRL: Machine Learning in Real Life
    Examine how we develop, evaluate, and deploy ML in real life applications, and discover problematic implications.
  12. Neural Architecture Search
    Build a strong, open, inclusive, and welcoming community of colleagues working on neural architecture search.
  13. Practical ML for Developing Countries: learning under limited/low resource scenarios
    Bring together researchers, experts, policy makers, and related stakeholders under the umbrella of practical ML for developing countries.
  14. Towards Trustworthy ML: Rethinking Security and Privacy for ML
    Bring together experts from a variety of communities (ML, computer security, data privacy, fairness, & ethics) to work on promising ideas and research directions.
  15. Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning
    Show that ML can be an invaluable tool both in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in helping society adapt to the effects of climate change.

A word about how we picked the workshops. We had reviewers score workshops according to a set of criteria, that would allows us to select workshops that would be most topical, exciting, diverse, and inclusive, and which left room for discussion. When multiple candidate workshops were almost exactly on the same topic, we decided to pick only one not to have topic overlap. We were impressed by the quality of the workshop submissions, and we hope and think that you will find some intellectually stimulating and welcoming workshops in this selection.

🏕 A Virtual Format for Workshops

The virtual format of the workshop means that asynchronous engagement becomes a basis of the workshops so that it works across time zones and access needs. The general structure of the workshops will follow that of the main conference, while allowing workshops to continue to explore new ways of building research communities and sharing knowledge.

  • Pre-recorded videos will be used for all keynote talks, contributed talks, and posters. Posters are also presented as short videos.
  • A Q&A tool will be used to gather questions for the keynotes throughout the day
  • A moderator will be available to read out submitted questions, as well as to coordinate and take any live questions.
  • There will be dedicated blocks of time for live engagement (in a chosen timezone), where live content, such as panel discussions, live poster spotlights, and Q&A sessions are hosted.
  • All content will be accessed through the individual webpages of the workshops.

Accessibility across time zones is one of the major challenges of the virtual format. By mixing the asynchronous and synchronous formats, workshops will still be able to form a sense of community and engagement around their shared topic. Other challenges facing workshop organisers include managing web presence, sequencing live content, and supporting their sponsorship needs and engagement, but plans are in place to address all of these and to host as successful workshops as are possible.

🟢 Conference Status and Updates

  • Virtual Socials/Booths: Takes 5 mins. Submit a proposal to help shape one of the social-elements of Virtual ICLR. Submit by 13 April.
  • Registration: Already open, go to for details.
  • Workshops: Organiser’s discuss on your Slack group; general workshop instructions.
  • Questions: Check the FAQ, which we update regularly.

If you need more, see our last update on the Voices of ICLR2020: Announcing our Keynote Speakers, or on the Format for the ICLR2020 Virtual Conference.

Your Workshop Chairs and ICLR Organising Committees

Asja Fischer and Gabriel Synnaeve (Workshop Chairs); Sasha Rush and Shakir Mohamed (General Chair and Senior Programme Chair); Dawn Song, Kyunghyun Cho, Martha White (Programme Chairs); Anima Anandkumar and Kevin Swersky (Diversity Chairs); Andrea Brown and Lee Campbell (ICLR Organisation team), and the ICLR Board.

We wrote this in solidarity with all the people across the world working every day to ensure we can safely isolate and distance ourselves indoors. And while we have been re-re-reading workshop abstracts, we have been keeping our concentration by listening to some Touareg desert blues — on repeat 🎧 .




International Conference on Learning Representations