As I announced in the business meeting of TCC'13, I am stepping down as chair and member of the steering committee of TCC, and also do not intend to attend future venues. The reason is that, in the last decade, my research interests and activities have been drifting away from cryptography. I still find cryptography very interesting, but I believe one cannot pursue all that one finds interesting: Painful choices to keep away from many interesting issues (due to limited personal resources) are inevitable.
See my impressions from the 1st TCC and a partial record of past TCCs. For a full record of all past TCCs, see the history page (of the official TCC site).
To be more specific, our view is that there is a fair number of good TC papers per year that cannot (and should not) fit into either CRYPTO or FOCS/STOC. Such papers are the "growing grounds" of an area, and it is important to provide them with a stage. (These papers cannot fit in the general conferences because they are too many in number and because their main contribution is inherent to TC and less relevant to the wider audiences. They may lead to works that are fit for presentation in the general conferences, but they themselves don't really fit there.) Thus, we believe that there is a real need for a TC conference.
I don't recall ever feeling this way (wrt atmosphere)! I think that this has to do with the highly uniform/homogeneous nature of the set of attendees. It was amazing to see how the entire audience is interested (at least at some level) in almost every talk and follows (at least partially) every talk. At least this was true wrt myself, and consequently I was quite exhausted... It was amazing to go around the lecture room and hear groups excitingly involved in discussions that I could easily understand and relate to. My feeling was that this conference provided a meeting place to a community (which never met by itself before) and that the meeting provided a forum for extensive interaction as well as contributed to the self-image of the community. All this seems to yield a burst of energy that is most likely to enhence the area.
The bottom-line is that I feel that my a priori feeling that this conference has been needed turned out to be a big understatement. Firstly, the submissions and the attendance (with many traveling from the west coast, Europe and even Japan!) speaks for itself (and asserts that this conference is really needed). Secondly, I am bewildered to the thought of what would have happened and has been happening for years when this conference did not exist. That is, if this conference had not existed then
Let me say a few words on the program. I found the program to be of very good quality. I could spot only two papers (out of 27 in the program) of which I thought that they should not have appeared in the program. (As you know, I'm quite critical...) In my opinion, all the rest are of quality that is at least as good as the average CRYPTO/EC quality, but of course most of these papers would not have been accepted to CRYPTO/EC because they'd be considered to lack practical applications. (I'd even say that I'm willing to bet that, although each of the 25 papers could have been accepted to CRYPTO/EC, provided it were among few "theory" submissions, it is the case that if TCC would not have existed then at least 20 of these papers would not have appeared anywhere!)
The Theory of Cryptography deals with the paradigms, approaches and techniques used to conceptualize, define and provide solutions to natural cryptographic problems. More specifically, research in this area includes:
TCC Steering Committee Members: Mihir Bellare, Ivan Damgard, Oded Goldreich (chair), Shafi Goldwasser, Johan Hastad, Russell Impagliazzo, Ueli Maurer, Silvio Micali, Moni Naor, and Tatsuaki Okamoto.
To the TCC official site and Oded Goldreich's homepage.