Via David Eppstein, I find out about the Workshop on Theory and Multicores. A memorable citation from the call:
[...] Indeed, the programs of many mainstream computer science conferences, such as ASPLOS, DAC, ISCA, PLDI and POPL are heavily populated with papers on parallel computing and in particular on many-core computing. In contrast, the recent programs of flagship theory conferences, such as FOCS, SODA and STOC, hardly have any such paper. This low level of activity should be a concern to the theory community, for it is not clear, for example, what validity the theory of algorithms will have if the main model of computation supported by the vendors is allowed to evolve away from any studied by the theory. The low level of current activity in the theory community is not compatible with past involvement of theorists in parallel computing, and to their representation in the technical discourse.Which theory community? The one that thinks our machine models are not robust enough to tell the difference between O(n lg n) and O(n5)? The one that thinks nO(1/ε^2) is polynomial and even efficient? The one that thinks Amazon should be happy with an O(lg3n) approximation for its profit? The one that thinks the coolest conclusions we ever came to are the philosophical implications of interactive proofs and zero knowledge?
The theory community will do just fine, thank you very much.
As for "the low level of current activity" being incompatible "with past involvement of theorists in parallel computing" --- it is exactly the past involvement that led to the current attitude towards parallel computing! Parallel computing is the fabled field where we got burned badly, and the first example people use to argue that theory is still very young. (It usually goes like this: "Imagine an equivalent of Perelman disappearing for 20 years and coming back with an answer to the most burning question about PRAMs from 1985. Who would care now?").
It's going to be hard to regain enthusiasm about parallel computing, as timely as the moment may be.
But at least we learned our lessons. Never again will a hyped-up mob of theorists rush head-on to study a machine model too early. Never will we study a machine model before such computers are even built, and while the practicality of such computers is still debated. We understand that producing a theoretical model too early will have us chasing the wrong rabbits, and that our results might be as relevant as the 5-state 17-symbol universal Turing Machine was in the design of the Pentium.
Alright, enough of this. I should go back to reading about 3-round quantum interactive proofs with entanglement.