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Essay Paper UPSC 2021 (Mains): Question Paper and Analysis

Last updated on January 8, 2022 by Alex Andrews George

Essay Paper UPSC 2021 (Mains)

UPSC conducted the  Essay Paper , as part of the Civil Services Main Exam 2021 on 07-01-2022.

There were 8 Essay topics, out of which candidates were asked to write on two topics in 3 hours.

Candidates were supposed to answer about 1000 words for each essay (about 10-12 pages).

Table of Contents

Essay Paper UPSC 2021 Instructions

  • Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.
  • The essay must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.
  • No marks will be given for answers written in the medium other than the authorized one.
  • Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.

Essay Question Paper – UPSC Civil Services Main Exam (Written) 2021

Write  two  essays, choosing  one  topic from each of the following Sections A and B, in about 1000-1200 words each:

1. The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced.

2. Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.

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3. Philosophy of wantlessness is Utopian, while materialism is a chimera.

4. The real is rational and the rational is real.

5. Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

6. What is research, but a blind date with knowledge!

7. History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.

8. There are better practices to “best practices”.

Most of the essays topics this year were philosophical and open to the interpretation of the candidates. However, considering the philosophical base of the questions, most candidates found the questions tricky. It was not easy to write 1000 words on each topic within the time constraints.

UPSC has ensured that the essay topics were much different from the GS questions.

A philosophical theme is clearly evident in most of the essay topics in Section A as well as Section B. This was the case in 2020 as well. However, this year it became much more prominent. It is a clue about what UPSC expects from the essay paper.

Rather than asking candidates to write on topics most aspirants are familiar or trained with, UPSC is now evaluating the essay writing skills of aspirants by providing them with abstract or philosophical topics.

The reason for such a shift in the pattern should be the change in the focus of the Commission.

All the 8 topics presented this year will test spontaneous thinking, comprehension, writing skills, and time-management of aspirants.

Repeated questions from previous years

The importance of the previous year UPSC questions cannot be stressed more.

Just like prelims, in mains too many questions came directly repeated from previous year question papers. Also, there were themes you often see in many essay books.

One such question was Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Thinkers, Philosophers, and their Quotes

Let’s analyse the source of some of the question topics.

Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.

This essay topic was a quote going rounds on the internet. The quote is attributed to “Coach Bobbi” [Bobbi Chegwyn] on Facebook.

Philosophy of wantlessness is Utopian, while materialism is a chimera.

This essay topic was connected with J.K. Mehta’s Theory of Wantlessness!

This has also connections with Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy.

The real is rational and the rational is real.

This is a quote by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel .

As per Hegel, something can be real, yet it may not exist. Also, something may not be real, it may still exist. For Hegel, reality does not mean existence.

Among philosophers, Hegel is one whose thought is extremely difficult to understand. Often to understand Hegel’s thoughts, we need to grasp his ideas, not in isolation but together with his dialogue with other philosophers, in particular, Aristotle and Kant.

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World” is a poem by William Ross Wallace that praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world. The poem was first published in 1865 under the title “ What Rules the World “.

What is research, but a blind date with knowledge!

This is a quote by Will Harvey . Will Harvey (born 1967) is an American software developer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.

It was Karl Marx who said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.

First, it’s a tragedy because it shouldn’t have happened. Then it’s a farce (joke) because we didn’t learn from our mistakes the first time around. This is Marx’s version of dark humour.

What should aspirants preparing for next year do for an essay paper?

First of all, you should take the essay paper seriously.

Unless properly trained, it is not easy to write 10-12 pages on an abstract or philosophical topic.

You need to polish your comprehension and analytical skills.

Read different kinds of essays – particularly philosophical essays.

Give stress to the thoughts of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Friedrich Niche, Karl Marx etc. Start writing essays on famous quotes.

Also, be prepared to write essays touching other areas like society, polity, economy, or technology. UPSC is known for surprises.

Remember that there is nothing like a constant trend with respect to UPSC questions.

What you get by analysing the previous year question papers are clues. And only those are what you need from UPSC questions!

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Alex Andrews George is a mentor, author, and social entrepreneur. Alex is the founder of ClearIAS and one of the expert Civil Service Exam Trainers in India.

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Reader Interactions

essay paper mains

January 8, 2022 at 11:36 am

Upsc has chosen right path to evaluate person.one person read, listen ,rember and write in exam.He qualify exam.He is just like computer.worthy less people selected by upsc every year.They are not thinker.so our country is intellectually insolvent.civil services requires thinker to. progess country and welfare of common man.These types of question evaluate intellectual for the welfare of human being.

essay paper mains

January 9, 2022 at 1:44 pm

You are putting the quality of a leader and a literate society in such a person who just has to follow his supremes.He/She must be a good analyst. That’s it!!!

essay paper mains

June 13, 2022 at 12:41 pm

in the bureaucracy – there is no space for logical thinking.

once you clear the exams and get appointed – you have to follow the “protocol’ or “procedures” – its difficult to be analytical and innovative – bcos the system demands obedience and adherence to the protocol. If you follow the protocol – and even if lot of people are severely affected – you wont be taken to task. But if you are innovative – and even if ONE person gets affected – you will be punished.

essay paper mains

January 8, 2022 at 4:02 pm

Yeah!I’ve passed upsc .

essay paper mains

January 25, 2022 at 2:21 pm

I have written Essay on three topics..how may I share?

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ESSAY QUESTION PAPER : UPSC Civil Services IAS Exam MAINS 2021

Essay question  paper – upsc civil services  ias mains – 2021.

1. The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced.

2. Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.

3. Philosophy of wantlessness is Utopian, while materialism is a chimera.

4. The real is rational and the rational is real.

5. Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

6. What is research, but a blind date with knowledge!

7. History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.

8. There are better practices to “best practices”.

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UPSC Essay Topic wise Question Papers of last 31 years (1993-2023) for Civil Services IAS/IPS Exam Free Download

In the UPSC mains examination, essay paper is worth 250 marks and three hours. Here is the topic wise questions from the earlier years for the benefit of civil service IAS IPS aspirants.

1.1 India Since Independence

1.2 federalism, decentralization, 1.3 administration, 1.4 judiciary, 1.5 poverty, social justice, 1.6 indian society, culture and values, 1.7 media, tv & cinema, literature, 2.1 growth vs development, 2.2 environment vs development, 2.4 sectors of economy, 3.1 values in education, 3.2 scheme implementation, 3.3 higher education, 4.1 character, honesty, ethics, 4.2 knowledge, 4.3 compassion, 4.4 truth and reality, 4.5 youth, discipline, 4.6 towards excellence, 5.1 @national politics, 5.2 @world / quote type, 5.3 empowerment overall, 5.4 compared to men, 6.1 globalization, 6.2 international org./ bilateral, 6.3 security, 6.4 history, 7.1 science and religion, 7.2 science and education, 7.3 computer and internet, 7.4 sci-tech: others, appendix: linear paper of upsc essay 2023, appendix: linear paper of upsc essay 2022, appendix: model answer pe free lecture & powerpoint, appendix: syllabus of essay paper in upsc, 1 india: democracy, administration, society, culture.

  • Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success? -2013
  • In the context of Gandhiji’s views on the matter, explore, on an evolutionary scale, the terms ‘Swadhinata’, ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Dharmarajya’. Critically comment on their contemporary relevance to Indian democracy -2012
  • Dreams which should not let India sleep. -2015
  • Why should we be proud of being Indians? -2000
  • Whither Indian democracy? -1995
  • How far has democracy in India delivered the goods? -2003
  • What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. -1997
  • What have we gained from our democratic set-up? -2001
  • My vision of India in 2001 a.d. -1993
  • Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India. -2017
  • Water disputes between States in federal India. -2016
  • Cooperative federalism : Myth or reality. -2016
  • Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implication -2011
  • Evaluation of panchayati raj system in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people. -2007
  • Water resources should be under the control of the central government. -2004
  • The language problem in India: its past, present and prospects. -1998
  • There are better practices to “best practices”. -2021
  • How should a civil servant conduct himself? -2003
  • Politics without ethics is a disaster. -1995
  • The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy -1996
  • Need for transparency in public administration -1996
  • The country’s need for a better disaster management system. -2000
  • Politics, bureaucracy and business – fatal triangle. -1994
  • We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. -2017
  • Justice must reach the poor -2005
  • Judicial activism and Indian democracy. -2004
  • Judicial activism. -1997
  • A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity. (- जिस समाज में अधिक न्याय होता है उस समाज को दान की कम आवश्यकता होती है।) – 2023
  • There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless (बिना आर्थिक समृद्धि के सामाजिक न्याय नहीं हो सकता, किन्तु बिना सामाजिक न्याय के आर्थिक समृद्धि निरर्थक है ) -2020
  • Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness. -2019
  • The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society. -2009
  • Food security for sustainable national development -2005
  • Reservation, politics and empowerment. -1999
  • Culture is what we are, civilization is what we have (जो हम है, वह संस्कार; जो हमारे पास है, वह सभ्यता ) -2020
  • Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? -2000
  • Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. -2000
  • The composite culture of India. -1998
  • The Indian society at the crossroads. -1994
  • From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? -2010
  • New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion -1996
  • Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy. -2019
  • Responsibility of media in a democracy. -2002
  • Role of media in good governance -2008
  • Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it? -2011
  • How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets? -2007
  • Is sting operation an invasion on privacy? -2014
  • Mass media and cultural invasion. -1999
  • The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India. -1998
  • Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world (कवि संसार के अनधिकृत रूप से विधायक होते हैं) – 2022

2 Economy, Development

  • Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. -2018
  • Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality. -2016
  • Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare. -2016
  • Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms. -2016
  • Crisis faced in India – moral or economic. -2015
  • Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country? -2014
  • GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country-2013
  • Can capitalism bring inclusive growth? -2015
  • Resource management in the Indian context. -1999
  • Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence. -1993
  • Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence (आर्थिक समृद्धि हासिल करने के मामले में वन सर्वोत्तम प्रतिमान होते हैं।) – 2022
  • Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India. -2018
  • Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country? -2010
  • Urbanisation and its hazards -2008
  • Protection of ecology and environment is essential for sustained economic development. -2006
  • Urbanization is a blessing in disguise. -1997
  • Ecological considerations need not hamper development. -1993
  • Globalization would finish small-scale industries in India. -2006
  • Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs -1994
  • Special economic zone: boon or bane -2008
  • Is the criticism that the ‘Public-Private-Partnership’ (PPP) model for development is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context, justified ?-2012
  • Farming has lost the ability to be a source of subsistence for majority of farmers in India. -2017
  • BPO boom in India. -2007
  • Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India? -2014
  • Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death? -2009

3 Education

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in – school. (- शिक्षा वह है जो विद्यालय में विधालय में सीखी गई बातों को भूल जाने के बाद भी शेष रह जाती है।)
  • Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms. -2017
  • Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil-2015
  • Independent thinking should be encouraged right form the childhood. -2007
  • Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress? -2014
  • Irrelevance of the classroom. -2001
  • Is the growing level of competition good for the youth? -2014
  • Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education. -1996
  • Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses ? -2008
  • What is real education? -2005
  • “Education for all” campaign in India: myth or reality. -2006
  • Restructuring of Indian education system. -1995
  • Privatization of higher education in India. -2002
  • Credit – based higher education system – status, opportunities and challenges -2011

4 Quote based, Philosophy, Ethics

  • A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities (हर असमंजस के लिए मुस्कराहट ही चुनिन्दा साधन है) – 2022
  • Philosophy of wantlessness is a Utopian, while materialism is a chimera. -2021
  • Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me. -2021
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication (सरलता चरम परिष्करण है ) -2020
  • Ships don’t sink because of water around them ships sink because of water that gets into them (जहाज अपने चारों तरफ के पानी के वजह से नहीं डूबा करते, जहाज पानी के अंदर समां जाने की वजह से डूबता हैं ) -2020
  • Life is a long journey between being human and being humane.  (मनुष्य होने और मानव बनने के बीच का लम्बा सफर ही जीवन है)-2020
  • Values are not what humanity is, but what humanity ought to be -2019
  • Best for an individual is not necessarily best for the society -2019
  • Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success -2019
  • Wisdom finds truth -2019
  • A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both. -2018
  • Customary morality cannot be a guide to modem file. -2018
  • Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. -2016
  • Character of an institution is reflected in its leader. -2015
  • With greater power comes greater responsibility. -2014
  • Words are sharper than the two-edged sword. -2014
  • Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man. -2007
  • He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king. -1993
  • Thinking is like a game, it does not begin unless there is an opposite team. (- सोच एक खेल की तरह है, यह तब तक शुरू नहीं होता है जब तक कि एक विपरीत टीम/पक्ष न हो।) – 2023
  • Mathematics is the music of reason. (- गणित ज्ञान का संगीत है।) – 2023
  • The real is rational and the rational is real. -2021
  • Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self (विचारपरक संकल्प स्वयं के शांतचित्त रहने का उत्प्रेरक है )-2020
  • ‘The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values. -2018
  • A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. -2018
  • There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -2003
  • Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. -1995
  • Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. -2017
  • Compassion is the basic of all morality of the world -1993
  • Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole. -2015
  • Be the change you want to see in others (Gandhi)-2013
  • Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right (केवल इसलिए कि आपके पास विकल्प हैं, इसका यह अर्थ कदापि नहीं है कि उनमें से किसी को भी ठीक होना ही होगा) – 2022
  • Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it. -2018
  • Truth is lived, not taught -1996
  • When money speaks, the truth is silent. -1995
  • Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. -2002
  • The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining (छप्पर मरम्मत करने का समय तभी होता है, जब धूप खिली हुई हो) – 2022
  • You cannot step twice in the same river (आप उसी नदी में दोबारा नहीं उतर सकते) – 2022
  • Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin -2008
  • Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret -1994
  • If youth knew, if age could. -2002
  • Youth culture today. -1999
  • Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India? -2014
  • Visionary decision-making happens at the intersection of intuition and logic. (- दूरदर्शी निर्णय तभी लिए जाते है अंतर्ज्ञान और तर्क का परस्पर मेल होता है।) – 2023
  • Not all who wander are lost. (- भटकने वाले सभी गुम नहीं हो जाते।) – 2023
  • Inspiration for creativity springs from the effort to look for the magical in the mundane (- रचनात्मकता की प्रेरणा अलौकिक ता में चमत्कार ढूंढने के प्रयास से उपजति है) – 2023
  • A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ship is for (जहाज बन्दरगाह के भीतर सुरक्षित होता है, परन्तु इसके लिए तो वह होता नहीं है) – 2022
  • Quick but steady wins the race. -2015
  • Useless life is an early death. -1994
  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. -1995
  • The paths of glory lead but to the grave. -2002
  • The pursuit of excellence. -2001

5 Women empowerment

  • Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight. -1997
  • Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in India. -2006
  • The new emerging women power: the ground realities. -1995
  • Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. -2021
  • If women ruled the world -2005
  • The hand that rocks the cradle -2005
  • Patriarchy is the least noticed yet the most significant structure of social inequality (पितृ-सत्ता की व्यवस्था नजर मैं बहुत काम आने के बावजूद सामाजिक विषमता की सबसे प्रभावी संरचना है) -2020
  • Fulfilment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth. -2017
  • If development is not engendered, it is endangered. -2016
  • Whither women’s emancipation? -2004
  • Empowerment alone cannot help our women. -2001
  • Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. -1999
  • Woman is god’s best creation. -1998
  • Men have failed: let women take over. -1993
  • Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal ?-2012

6 International issues, Internal Security, History

  • South Asian societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and plural identities. -2019
  • Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. -1994
  • ‘globalization’ vs. ‘nationalism’ -2009
  • National identity and patriotism -2008
  • Globalizations and its impact on Indian culture. -2004
  • The masks of new imperialism. -2003
  • As civilization advances culture declines. -2003
  • The implications of globalization for India. -2000
  • My vision of an ideal world order. -2001
  • India’s contribution to world wisdom. -1998
  • The world of the twenty-first century. -1998
  • Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role. -2010
  • Technology as the silent factor in international relations (अंतर्राष्ट्रीय संबंधों मैं मौन करक के रूप मैं प्रौद्योगिकी) -2020
  • Has the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world ? -2017
  • Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities -1996
  • The global order: political and economic -1993
  • India’s role in promoting ASEAN co-operation. -2004
  • Importance of Indo-US nuclear agreement -2006
  • Management of Indian border dispute is a complex task. -2018
  • In the Indian context , both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism -2011
  • Are we a ‘soft’ state ? -2009
  • Good fences make good neighbours -2009
  • Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? -2007
  • Terrorism and world peace -2005
  • True religion cannot be misused. -1997
  • History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. -2021
  • Geography may remain the same ; history need not. -2010

7 Science-Technology

  • Spirituality and scientific temper. -2003
  • Science and Mysticism : Are they compatible ?-2012
  • What is research, but a blind date with knowledge! -2021
  • Modern technological education and human values. -2002
  • Value-based science and education. -1999
  • The march of science and the erosion of human values. -2001
  • The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced. -2021
  • Rise of Artificial Intelligence: the threat of jobless future or better job opportunities through reskilling and upskilling. -2019
  • ‘Social media’ is inherently a selfish medium. -2017
  • Cyberspace and Internet : Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run -2016
  • Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. -2006
  • The cyberworld: its charms and challenges. -2000
  • Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution. -1993
  • Technology cannot replace manpower. -2015
  • Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation-2013
  • The modern doctor and his patients. -1997
  • The lure of space. -2004

Section-A (write any one)

  • Thinking is like a game, it does not begin unless there is an opposite team. (- सोच एक खेल की तरह है, यह तब तक शुरू नहीं होता है जब तक कि एक विपरीत टीम/पक्ष न हो।)
  • Visionary decision-making happens at the intersection of intuition and logic. (- दूरदर्शी निर्णय तभी लिए जाते है अंतर्ज्ञान और तर्क का परस्पर मेल होता है।)
  • Not all who wander are lost. (- भटकने वाले सभी गुम नहीं हो जाते।)
  • Inspiration for creativity springs from the effort to look for the magical in the mundane (- रचनात्मकता की प्रेरणा अलौकिक ता में चमत्कार ढूंढने के प्रयास से उपजति है)

Section-B (write any one)

  • Girls are weighed down by restrictions, boys with demands – two equally harmful disciplines. (-लड़कियां बंदिशों के तथा लड़के अपेक्षा के बोझ तले दबे हुए होते हैं दोनों ही समान रूप से हानिकारक व्यवस्थाएं हैं।)
  • Mathematics is the music of reason. (- गणित ज्ञान का संगीत है।)
  • A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity. (- जिस समाज में अधिक न्याय होता है उस समाज को दान की कम आवश्यकता होती है।)

Answer one-one essay from each section in 1000-1200 words

  • History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man (इतिहास वैज्ञानिक मनुष्य के रूमानी मनुष्य पर विजय हासिल करने का एक सिलसिला है।) – 2022
  • A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ship is for (जहाज बन्दरगाह के भीतर सुरक्षित होता है, परन्तु इसके लिए तो वह होता नहीं है) & 2022
  • Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right (केवल इसलिए कि आपके पास विकल्प हैं, इसका यह अर्थ कदापि नहीं है कि उनमें से किसी को भी ठीक होना ही होगा) – 2022

Essay: Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

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UPSC CSE MAINS 2022 ESSAY PAPER ANALYSIS

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on September 16 conducted the first paper of CSE Mains 2022 that is the Essay Paper.

Essay Paper UPSC 2022 Instructions

  • Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.
  • The essay must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.
  • No marks will be given for answers written in the medium other than the authorized one.
  • Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.

Write two essays, choosing one topic from each of the following Sections A and B, in about 1000-1200 words each:

  • Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence.
  • Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
  • History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man.
  • A ship in the harbour is safe but that is not what a ship is for.
  • The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
  • You cannot step twice in the same river.
  • Smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities.
  • Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right.

UPSC CSE Main 2022 essay paper analysis

  • There has been a trend of increased number of philosophical essays in the past couple of years however this time around the benchmark was higher than the previous few years. However, considering the philosophical base of the questions, most candidates found the questions tricky. It was not easy to write 1000 words on each topic within the time constraints.
  • UPSC has ensured that the essay topics were much different from the GS questions.
  • Rather than asking candidates to write on topics that most candidates are familiar with or have practiced with, UPSC now assesses candidates' essay writing skills by providing them with abstract or philosophical topics.
  • This year most of the themes were either proverbs or famous quotes.
  • All 8 topics this year will test applicants' spontaneous thinking, understanding, writing and time management.
  • Topics required broad interpretation
  • Themes asked:
  • Poetic language as a tool to re-institute order in human society. 
  • Getting out of one’s comfort zone 
  • Do the right things at the right time
  •  You won’t get the exact time/experience twice.
  • Importance of smile
  • Theme related to choices and decision making

It is necessary to know that why essay paper is required in a competitive exam?

UPSC notification says that “candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay, to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.”

What can one make out from this? The following quote of Abraham Lincoln very aptly answers the question…..

                                                          

‘Writing’ (essay) of the aspirant works as a window, for the highly experienced examiner, to the thought process of the candidate. Examiner will not only evaluate the content of the aspirant but also his thought process, viewpoints on critical matters, clarity in thinking, ability to explain his view point concisely and effectively, ability of coherence and putting his ideas in an orderly fashion, language. In a nutshell, it acts as a mean to bring out the traits of a potential civil servant and to evaluate if he is fit to be one.

Having discussed about the importance of the paper, it is essential to clear the misconceptions associated with essay paper before moving to how to prepare for it.

  • There is no preparation required for essay paper-GS and optional knowledge will suffice.

Truth. This is wrong way of thinking. In GS marks will be awarded just for content. But in essay, examiner will pay attention to more than content as explained above.

  • One needs to be champion in English-use technical jargons, vocabulary.

Truth. It is worth noting that in UPSC CSE, the simpler the language the better it is. There is no need of flowery jargons and expressions. 

  •   There is no difference between language paper essay and ‘Essay’ paper.

Truth. This is highly misconceived notion on the part of aspirants to treat the essay paper just like essays asked in the language papers. The importance of both is vastly different. One is aimed to judge the language of the aspirant whereas the other is aimed to bring out the true traits of a potential Civil Servant. 

  • Essay paper can’t be prepared so easily.

Truth. This is again a misconception. There have been candidates who have drastically increased their marks from scores like 100-110 to 150-160 with proper strategy and preparation. It is worth noting that essay paper requires relatively lesser effort to improve as compared to GS papers. The rate of investment is quite high.

From where to prepare for the essay paper?

  • GS and optional preparation will give content.
  • Reading non-fiction: will help to develop thinking process.
  • Anecdotes, stories, quotes, facts and figures: A separate notebook should be kept for the same.
  • Referring to magazines: Yojana, Kurukshetra, EPW, Economic Survey, DowntoEarth.
  • Newspaper editorials, relevant lines said by eminent/constitutional posts like President, PM etc.
  • Essay transcripts of previous year toppers.

How to prepare for the essay?

  • Firstly read the transcripts of previous year toppers to get a feel of what comprises a well-written essay. 
  • A separate notebook for essay should be prepared where fodder collected from the above mentioned sources should be written in point format. 
  • An aspirant should prepare material on all the general topics that have been asked in the exam previously. This should include quotations, facts/ figures, anecdotes, sayings, case studies, government schemes.
  • Give stress to the thoughts of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Friedrich Niche, Karl Marx etc. Start writing essays on famous quotes.
  • Whenever aspirant takes a particular topic, he should to try to think of all the possible themes/ dimensions of it. For eg: Consider the topic “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Aspirant can think of the topic from SPECLIH perspective- Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International and Humanistic. This is one way of covering multiple dimensions.
  • Read different kinds of essays – particularly philosophical essays. Give stress to the thoughts of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Friedrich Niche, Karl Marx etc. 
  • Next step is to write essays. Pick up the previous year papers and practice them at home in exam conditions. Self-evaluate and get a feedback from mentors, peers and teachers.

How to approach an essay? 

  • Aspirant should have clear cut plan ready for attempting the essay paper. It should be clear in his mind before entering the examination hall how he is going to manage the time. The answers to following questions should be ready beforehand. 
  • How much time will be devoted in choosing the topic?
  • How much time will be devoted in interpreting the topic?
  • How much time will be devoted in making a rough skeleton of the essay?
  • How much time will be devoted in attempting the essay?
  • How much time will be devoted in revising and underlining the keywords?
  • Aspirant should always keep a buffer of 10 minutes in order to meet any exigency.

Eg: Topic Selection: 5 minutes, Brainstorming: 10-15 minutes, writing: 1 hour, revision: 5 minutes.

  • First thing is choosing the right topic from each section. This will depend upon the aspirant’s holistic understanding of the topic. Do not get swayed by the fact that since it is an easy topic I won’t choose it. I will choose unconventional topic just to impress the examiner. This is wrong way of thinking.
  • Next thing is to interpret the topic. One should understand the theme of the topic. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ESSAY WRITING IS PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE TOPIC AND “WRITING ON THAT TOPIC”. DOING THIS MUCH ENSURES THAT ONE WILL NOT GET BELOW ANERAGE MARKS.
  • Brainstorm and prepare skeleton of the topic:
  • Every essay should have an introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Introduction: can be a fictitious story, real life anecdote, quote, a paragraph on what all is going be covered in the essay.
  • Themes/ dimensions to be covered eg: SPECLIH, temporal, sectoral, walks of life, problem and solution format.
  • Quotes, sayings, anecdotes, facts/ figures.
  • Conclusion: it should always be on a futuristic and optimistic note. Summarize the essay in 4 to 5 lines and then write the vision for future. Some saying, quote, lines of eminent personalities can be used.
  • Structuring of the essay:
  • Language should  be  simple and clear
  • Keep the sentences short and powerful
  • An occasional use of powerful word or jargon can give the essay an edge
  • Proper subheadings
  • Transition smoothly from one para to the next through a link sentence/ through a question

What to avoid in the essay?

  • Aspirant should never give one-sided arguments or viewpoints which are against constitutional spirit.
  • Never focus excessively on only one dimension or theme.
  • Always write what is asked not what one knows.
  • Do not give disproportionate amount of time to one essay avoiding the other one.
  • Avoid criticizing the government, its policies and schemes.
  • Avoid being seen as a person belonging to a particular ideology.
  • Avoid writing in bullets, making diagrams, figures, charts. Essay should always be in continuous para format.

It is often seen that aspirants do not give the necessary attention to the essay paper. They spend months preparing for the optional and the GS papers but hardly give dedicated time to essay paper. This leads them to score poorly in the exam and they fail to get the edge which they could have easily achieved with a proper strategy and preparation for the essay paper. If one compares GS papers score with that of essay one can find out that it is difficult to achieve a score of 120-125 marks in the former whereas aspirants touch 150 and even 160 in the essay paper which gives them an edge of almost 30 marks. CSE topper 2017 scored just 100 marks in the essay paper of CSE 2015 whereas after making the necessary effort and rectifying his mistakes he was able to score 155 in CSE 2017.

essay paper mains

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General Studies

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Study Material

UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023

By vajiram & ravi.

Model Answers GS Paper I PDF

Model Answers GS Paper II PDF

Model Answers GS Paper III PDF

Model Answers GS Paper IV PDF

The UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023 will help you understand the exam pattern being followed by UPSC in this year. The exam dates for the UPSC CSE Mains are 15th, 16th, 17th, 23rd and 24th September 2023. The examination was conducted in two shifts: the first shift is from 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m., and the second shift is from 2.00 p.m. -5.00 p.m . The pattern of the UPSC Mains 2023 question paper consists of a comprehensive assessment designed to evaluate the knowledge, analytical abilities, and writing skills of aspirants for various civil services positions in India. There are 9 papers in total, and all are descriptive in nature.

Analysing the UPSC Mains 2023 paper will help you analyse the pattern of questions and fill in the gaps in your preparation for UPSC 2024 . Therefore, this article will focus on providing UPSC Mains Question Papers 2023 for all 9 papers that are taking place from 15th to 24th September 2023.

UPSC Mains 2023 Question Paper PDF

The UPSC Mains Question Paper consists of a set of nine papers, out of which two are qualifying in nature, namely the English Language Paper and an Indian Language Paper (selected by the candidate). The remaining seven papers are counted for merit, covering a wide spectrum of subjects, including General Studies, Essay, and optional subjects selected by the candidates. These papers are designed to evaluate a candidate's in-depth understanding of various subjects, critical thinking ability, analytical skills, and ability to articulate thoughts clearly.

Here, you can download the UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023 PDF of GS Paper- I, II, III and IV consisting of the General Studies subjects part of the UPSC Syllabus . Each Paper carries 250 Marks.

  • General Studies I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
  • General Studies II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations)
  • General Studies III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
  • General Studies IV (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)

You can download the UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023 of General Studies - I, II, III, and IV from the given link below:

  • GS Paper I Mains Question Paper 2023
  • GS Paper II Mains Question Paper 2023
  • GS Paper III Mains Question Paper 2023
  • GS Paper IV Mains Question Paper 2023

Model Answers of UPSC Mains 2023 General Studies Questions

Those who have taken the UPSC Mains 2023 exam from 15th to 24th September or those who are planning to appear next year can download the model answers of UPSC Mains question papers of GS I, II, III, and IV from the following links. These answers will help you identify the structure and important points that could be included in the answers.

GS Paper 1:

  • Question 1: Explain the role of Geographical Factors towards the development of Ancient India .
  • Question 2:  What was the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards education and nationalism?
  • Question 3:  Bring about the Socio-Economic Effects of the Introduction of Railways in Different Countries of the World.
  • Question 4:  Discuss the Consequences of Climate Change on the Food Security in Tropical Countries.
  • Question 5:  Why is the world today confronted with a crisis of availability of and access to freshwater resources?
  • Question 6: How are the fjords formed? Why do they constitute some of the most picturesque areas of the world?
  • Question 8:  Do you think marriage as a sacrament is losing its value in modern India?
  • Question 9:  Explain why suicide among young women is increasing in Indian society.

GS Paper 2:

  • Question 1:  "Constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy”. Comment.
  • Question 2:  Who are entitled to receive free legal aid? Assess the role of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in rendering free legal aid in India.
  • Question 3:  “The states in India seem reluctant to empower urban local bodies both functionally as well as financially.” Comment.
  • Question 4:  Compare and Contrast the British and Indian approaches to Parliamentary Sovereignty.
  • Question 5:  Discuss the role of Presiding Officers of state legislatures in maintaining order and impartiality in conducting legislative work and in facilitating best democratic practices.

GS Paper 3:

  • Question 1:  Faster economic growth requires increased share of the manufacturing sector in GDP, particularly of MSMEs. Comment on the present policies of the Government in this regard.
  • Question 2:  What is the status of digitalization in the Indian economy? Examine the problems faced in this regard and suggest improvements.
  • Question 3:  How does e-Technology help farmers in production and marketing of agricultural produce? Explain it.
  • Question 4:  State the objectives and measures of land reforms in India. Discuss how land ceiling policy on landholding can be considered as an effective reform under economic criteria.
  • Question 5:  Introduce the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI). How does AI help clinical diagnosis? Do you perceive any threat to privacy of the individual in the use of AI in the healthcare?
  • Question 6:  Discuss several ways in which microorganisms can help in meeting the current fuel shortage.

GS Paper 4:

  • Differentiate ‘moral intuition’ from ‘moral reasoning with suitable examples.
  • What were the major teachings of Guru Nanak? Explain their relevance in the contemporary world.
  • Explain the term social capital. How does it enhance good governance?

UPSC Mains Essay Paper 2023

The UPSC Mains Essay paper 2023 consists of two sections, Section A and Section B. Each section has four essay topics. Aspirants must choose one topic from each section for a total of two essays. Each essay must be between 1,000 and 1,200 words long and is worth 125 marks. The Essay paper is not just for qualifying purposes but also counts towards the final merit ranking. Candidates are expected to stay on topic, organise their thoughts logically, and write concisely.

The UPSC Mains Essay Paper 2023  can be downloaded here.

UPSC CSE Mains 2023 Essay Question Paper PDF

UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023 Language Papers

The UPSC Mains exam has nine papers, of which Paper A is the mandatory Indian Language Paper. Candidates must select an Indian language from a list given by the UPSC in the official notification.

Paper B is the required English Language Paper. It is a qualifying paper, meaning that candidates must score at least 25% marks in order to be considered for the final merit list.

The UPSC Mains question papers for Indian language and English language can be downloaded from the following links:

  • Paper A: Indian Language Mains Question Paper 2023 (Hindi)
  • Paper B: English Language Question Paper 2023

UPSC Mains Optional Question Papers

The UPSC Mains Exam has a list of 48 optional subjects from which aspirants must choose one. Each optional subject is divided into two papers, each of which carries 250 marks. The choice of an optional subject is an important factor in determining the candidate's rank in the final merit list, so it should be made carefully. The UPSC Mains 2023 question paper of optional subjects can be downloaded from the following links:

Pattern of UPSC Mains 2023 Paper

To know about the exam pattern and the release dates of UPSC Mains 2023 question papers, refer to the following table:

Is UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023 released?

The UPSC Mains Question Paper 2023 has not been released on the Official UPSC Website yet. However, you can download the Mains Question Paper 2023 from our given page after the paper has been successfully concluded on the given day.

How many papers are there in UPSC Mains?

There are a total of 9 papers for UPSC Mains 2023. Each paper is descriptive in nature.

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essay paper mains

UPSC Mains Essay Paper

The UPSC essay paper is one of the important papers of the civil services mains exam. Furthermore, the marks obtained in the UPSC essay paper 2022 will be counted for merit ranking. Thus, it is essential to give priority to essay papers in preparation.

In broader terms, candidates are required to write two essays, pick one IAS essay topics from each of sections A and B and write in about 1000-1200 words each. Moreover, each UPSC essay paper carries 125 marks, making a maximum of 250 marks.

Thus, the candidates should adhere to the best books, and strategies, and solve the previous year’s UPSC essay paper with answers to prepare well for this section.

In this article, we have shared complete details on the Essay 1 exam paper for the candidates aspiring for the upcoming UPSC IAS exam.

UPSC Essay Topics-Overview

  • As per the UPSC notification , the essay paper is one of the nine subjects in the IAS main exam. Thus, the candidates are required to write essays on multiple topics.
  • Hence, it is advised to stay updated with the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in proper order and write concisely.
  • Moreover, credit is usually given for effective and exact expression. The maximum mark for essay questions UPSC is 250 and the exam duration is 3 hours.

UPSC Essay Previous Year Papers

Candidates should solve past UPSC essay paper with answers to strengthen their preparation. This will improve their writing skills and also help them to understand essay UPSC topics asked in the exam over years.

Hence, we have shared below the official UPSC essay previous paper PDF link for ease of the aspirants.

How to Prepare for UPSC Essay Topics in IAS 2023 Exam?

While preparing for the IAS mains exam, candidates devote their maximum time to studying general studies and optional subjects. However, they should give equal importance to the UPSC essay paper .

Let’s look at the best preparation tips to excel in the Essay 1 exam paper .

  • Inculcate the habit of reading newspaper editorials on a daily basis. It is also observed that many times essay questions are based on current affairs.
  • Next, jot down relevant quotes from the newspaper/books and use them when writing an essay.
  • Practice writing on the IAS essay topics related to health, women, education, science, internet, technology, etc to improve your vocabulary and overall writing skills.
  • Select the essay topic wisely. Candidates should go through all the topics carefully and pick the topic they are familiar with.
  • Candidates should also ensure that their essay includes an introduction, body, basic theme, and conclusion.
  • Lastly, ask for feedback on the essay from the mentors, seniors, or teachers. This will help them to discover their weak points and allow them to focus more on improving the same for better results.

Best Books for UPSC Essay Paper

Along with the best preparation strategy, candidates should pick the most reliable Books for UPSC and study material for the essay paper. Let’s look at the expert-recommended books for essay preparation shared below:

Check the latest CSAT books for UPSC.

Q1. How to write an essay for IAS exam?

Ans. Candidates must prepare an outline first before writing the essay. This will also help them to prepare an introduction/conclusion, ideas, quotes, etc that can be used to write a good essay for the IAS exam.

Q2. What comes in essay paper of UPSC?

Ans. The UPSC essay paper is one of the nine subjects in the IAS main exam. Moreover, candidates need to write two essays with a word limit of 1000–1200 for each paper. Each essay paper carries 125 marks, making a maximum of 250 marks.

Q3. Which type of essay comes in IAS exam?

Ans. There are four types of essays in the IAS mains exam including narrative essay, descriptive essay, informative essay, and persuasive essay.

Q4. Is handwriting important for IAS?

Ans. Candidates will not get extra marks for good handwriting in the essay paper because the quality of the answer matters. However, bad handwriting can definitely decrease the chances of scoring high marks on the paper.

Q5. How can I improve my UPSC essay?

Ans. To improve the UPSC essay preparation , one should keep their outline consistent, avoid using too many jargon/technical terms, and practice essay writing to strengthen the preparation.

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Announcing the NeurIPS 2023 Paper Awards 

Communications Chairs 2023 2023 Conference awards , neurips2023

By Amir Globerson, Kate Saenko, Moritz Hardt, Sergey Levine and Comms Chair, Sahra Ghalebikesabi 

We are honored to announce the award-winning papers for NeurIPS 2023! This year’s prestigious awards consist of the Test of Time Award plus two Outstanding Paper Awards in each of these three categories: 

  • Two Outstanding Main Track Papers 
  • Two Outstanding Main Track Runner-Ups 
  • Two Outstanding Datasets and Benchmark Track Papers  

This year’s organizers received a record number of paper submissions. Of the 13,300 submitted papers that were reviewed by 968 Area Chairs, 98 senior area chairs, and 396 Ethics reviewers 3,540  were accepted after 502 papers were flagged for ethics reviews . 

We thank the awards committee for the main track: Yoav Artzi, Chelsea Finn, Ludwig Schmidt, Ricardo Silva, Isabel Valera, and Mengdi Wang. For the Datasets and Benchmarks track, we thank Sergio Escalera, Isabelle Guyon, Neil Lawrence, Dina Machuve, Olga Russakovsky, Hugo Jair Escalante, Deepti Ghadiyaram, and Serena Yeung. Conflicts of interest were taken into account in the decision process.

Congratulations to all the authors! See Posters Sessions Tue-Thur in Great Hall & B1-B2 (level 1).

Outstanding Main Track Papers

Privacy Auditing with One (1) Training Run Authors: Thomas Steinke · Milad Nasr · Matthew Jagielski

Poster session 2: Tue 12 Dec 5:15 p.m. — 7:15 p.m. CST, #1523

Oral: Tue 12 Dec 3:40 p.m. — 4:40 p.m. CST, Room R06-R09 (level 2)

Abstract: We propose a scheme for auditing differentially private machine learning systems with a single training run. This exploits the parallelism of being able to add or remove multiple training examples independently. We analyze this using the connection between differential privacy and statistical generalization, which avoids the cost of group privacy. Our auditing scheme requires minimal assumptions about the algorithm and can be applied in the black-box or white-box setting. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by applying it to DP-SGD, where we can achieve meaningful empirical privacy lower bounds by training only one model. In contrast, standard methods would require training hundreds of models.

Are Emergent Abilities of Large Language Models a Mirage? Authors: Rylan Schaeffer · Brando Miranda · Sanmi Koyejo

Poster session 6: Thu 14 Dec 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. CST, #1108

Oral: Thu 14 Dec 3:20 p.m. — 3:35 p.m. CST, Hall C2 (level 1) 

Abstract: Recent work claims that large language models display emergent abilities, abilities not present in smaller-scale models that are present in larger-scale models. What makes emergent abilities intriguing is two-fold: their sharpness, transitioning seemingly instantaneously from not present to present, and their unpredictability , appearing at seemingly unforeseeable model scales. Here, we present an alternative explanation for emergent abilities: that for a particular task and model family, when analyzing fixed model outputs, emergent abilities appear due to the researcher’s choice of metric rather than due to fundamental changes in model behavior with scale. Specifically, nonlinear or discontinuous metrics produce apparent emergent abilities, whereas linear or continuous metrics produce smooth, continuous, predictable changes in model performance. We present our alternative explanation in a simple mathematical model, then test it in three complementary ways: we (1) make, test and confirm three predictions on the effect of metric choice using the InstructGPT/GPT-3 family on tasks with claimed emergent abilities, (2) make, test and confirm two predictions about metric choices in a meta-analysis of emergent abilities on BIG-Bench; and (3) show how to choose metrics to produce never-before-seen seemingly emergent abilities in multiple vision tasks across diverse deep networks. Via all three analyses, we provide evidence that alleged emergent abilities evaporate with different metrics or with better statistics, and may not be a fundamental property of scaling AI models.

Outstanding Main Track Runner-Ups

Scaling Data-Constrained Language Models Authors : Niklas Muennighoff · Alexander Rush · Boaz Barak · Teven Le Scao · Nouamane Tazi · Aleksandra Piktus · Sampo Pyysalo · Thomas Wolf · Colin Raffel

Poster session 2: Tue 12 Dec 5:15 p.m. — 7:15 p.m. CST, #813

Oral: Tue 12 Dec 3:40 p.m. — 4:40 p.m. CST, Hall C2 (level 1)  

Abstract : The current trend of scaling language models involves increasing both parameter count and training dataset size. Extrapolating this trend suggests that training dataset size may soon be limited by the amount of text data available on the internet. Motivated by this limit, we investigate scaling language models in data-constrained regimes. Specifically, we run a large set of experiments varying the extent of data repetition and compute budget, ranging up to 900 billion training tokens and 9 billion parameter models. We find that with constrained data for a fixed compute budget, training with up to 4 epochs of repeated data yields negligible changes to loss compared to having unique data. However, with more repetition, the value of adding compute eventually decays to zero. We propose and empirically validate a scaling law for compute optimality that accounts for the decreasing value of repeated tokens and excess parameters. Finally, we experiment with approaches mitigating data scarcity, including augmenting the training dataset with code data or removing commonly used filters. Models and datasets from our 400 training runs are freely available at https://github.com/huggingface/datablations .

Direct Preference Optimization: Your Language Model is Secretly a Reward Model Authors: Rafael Rafailov · Archit Sharma · Eric Mitchell · Christopher D Manning · Stefano Ermon · Chelsea Finn

Poster session 6: Thu 14 Dec 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. CST, #625

Oral: Thu 14 Dec 3:50 p.m. — 4:05 p.m. CST, Ballroom A-C (level 2)  

Abstract: While large-scale unsupervised language models (LMs) learn broad world knowledge and some reasoning skills, achieving precise control of their behavior is difficult due to the completely unsupervised nature of their training. Existing methods for gaining such steerability collect human labels of the relative quality of model generations and fine-tune the unsupervised LM to align with these preferences, often with reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). However, RLHF is a complex and often unstable procedure, first fitting a reward model that reflects the human preferences, and then fine-tuning the large unsupervised LM using reinforcement learning to maximize this estimated reward without drifting too far from the original model. In this paper, we leverage a mapping between reward functions and optimal policies to show that this constrained reward maximization problem can be optimized exactly with a single stage of policy training, essentially solving a classification problem on the human preference data. The resulting algorithm, which we call Direct Preference Optimization (DPO), is stable, performant, and computationally lightweight, eliminating the need for fitting a reward model, sampling from the LM during fine-tuning, or performing significant hyperparameter tuning. Our experiments show that DPO can fine-tune LMs to align with human preferences as well as or better than existing methods. Notably, fine-tuning with DPO exceeds RLHF’s ability to control sentiment of generations and improves response quality in summarization and single-turn dialogue while being substantially simpler to implement and train.

Outstanding Datasets and Benchmarks Papers

In the dataset category : 

ClimSim: A large multi-scale dataset for hybrid physics-ML climate emulation

Authors:  Sungduk Yu · Walter Hannah · Liran Peng · Jerry Lin · Mohamed Aziz Bhouri · Ritwik Gupta · Björn Lütjens · Justus C. Will · Gunnar Behrens · Julius Busecke · Nora Loose · Charles Stern · Tom Beucler · Bryce Harrop · Benjamin Hillman · Andrea Jenney · Savannah L. Ferretti · Nana Liu · Animashree Anandkumar · Noah Brenowitz · Veronika Eyring · Nicholas Geneva · Pierre Gentine · Stephan Mandt · Jaideep Pathak · Akshay Subramaniam · Carl Vondrick · Rose Yu · Laure Zanna · Tian Zheng · Ryan Abernathey · Fiaz Ahmed · David Bader · Pierre Baldi · Elizabeth Barnes · Christopher Bretherton · Peter Caldwell · Wayne Chuang · Yilun Han · YU HUANG · Fernando Iglesias-Suarez · Sanket Jantre · Karthik Kashinath · Marat Khairoutdinov · Thorsten Kurth · Nicholas Lutsko · Po-Lun Ma · Griffin Mooers · J. David Neelin · David Randall · Sara Shamekh · Mark Taylor · Nathan Urban · Janni Yuval · Guang Zhang · Mike Pritchard

Poster session 4: Wed 13 Dec 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. CST, #105 

Oral: Wed 13 Dec 3:45 p.m. — 4:00 p.m. CST, Ballroom A-C (level 2)

Abstract: Modern climate projections lack adequate spatial and temporal resolution due to computational constraints. A consequence is inaccurate and imprecise predictions of critical processes such as storms. Hybrid methods that combine physics with machine learning (ML) have introduced a new generation of higher fidelity climate simulators that can sidestep Moore’s Law by outsourcing compute-hungry, short, high-resolution simulations to ML emulators. However, this hybrid ML-physics simulation approach requires domain-specific treatment and has been inaccessible to ML experts because of lack of training data and relevant, easy-to-use workflows. We present ClimSim, the largest-ever dataset designed for hybrid ML-physics research. It comprises multi-scale climate simulations, developed by a consortium of climate scientists and ML researchers. It consists of 5.7 billion pairs of multivariate input and output vectors that isolate the influence of locally-nested, high-resolution, high-fidelity physics on a host climate simulator’s macro-scale physical state. The dataset is global in coverage, spans multiple years at high sampling frequency, and is designed such that resulting emulators are compatible with downstream coupling into operational climate simulators. We implement a range of deterministic and stochastic regression baselines to highlight the ML challenges and their scoring. The data (https://huggingface.co/datasets/LEAP/ClimSim_high-res) and code (https://leap-stc.github.io/ClimSim) are released openly to support the development of hybrid ML-physics and high-fidelity climate simulations for the benefit of science and society.   

In the benchmark category :

DecodingTrust: A Comprehensive Assessment of Trustworthiness in GPT Models

Authors: Boxin Wang · Weixin Chen · Hengzhi Pei · Chulin Xie · Mintong Kang · Chenhui Zhang · Chejian Xu · Zidi Xiong · Ritik Dutta · Rylan Schaeffer · Sang Truong · Simran Arora · Mantas Mazeika · Dan Hendrycks · Zinan Lin · Yu Cheng · Sanmi Koyejo · Dawn Song · Bo Li

Poster session 1: Tue 12 Dec 10:45 a.m. — 12:45 p.m. CST, #1618  

Oral: Tue 12 Dec 10:30 a.m. — 10:45 a.m. CST, Ballroom A-C (Level 2)

Abstract: Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) models have exhibited exciting progress in capabilities, capturing the interest of practitioners and the public alike. Yet, while the literature on the trustworthiness of GPT models remains limited, practitioners have proposed employing capable GPT models for sensitive applications to healthcare and finance – where mistakes can be costly. To this end, this work proposes a comprehensive trustworthiness evaluation for large language models with a focus on GPT-4 and GPT-3.5, considering diverse perspectives – including toxicity, stereotype bias, adversarial robustness, out-of-distribution robustness, robustness on adversarial demonstrations, privacy, machine ethics, and fairness. Based on our evaluations, we discover previously unpublished vulnerabilities to trustworthiness threats. For instance, we find that GPT models can be easily misled to generate toxic and biased outputs and leak private information in both training data and conversation history. We also find that although GPT-4 is usually more trustworthy than GPT-3.5 on standard benchmarks, GPT-4 is more vulnerable given jailbreaking system or user prompts, potentially due to the reason that GPT-4 follows the (misleading) instructions more precisely. Our work illustrates a comprehensive trustworthiness evaluation of GPT models and sheds light on the trustworthiness gaps. Our benchmark is publicly available at https://decodingtrust.github.io/.

Test of Time

This year, following the usual practice, we chose a NeurIPS paper from 10 years ago to receive the Test of Time Award, and “ Distributed Representations of Words and Phrases and their Compositionality ” by Tomas Mikolov, Ilya Sutskever, Kai Chen, Greg Corrado, and Jeffrey Dean, won. 

Published at NeurIPS 2013 and cited over 40,000 times, the work introduced the seminal word embedding technique word2vec. Demonstrating the power of learning from large amounts of unstructured text, the work catalyzed progress that marked the beginning of a new era in natural language processing.

Greg Corrado and Jeffrey Dean will be giving a talk about this work and related research on Tuesday, 12 Dec at 3:05 – 3:25 pm CST in Hall F.  

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Guest Essay

I’m a Neuroscientist. We’re Thinking About Biden’s Memory and Age in the Wrong Way.

President Biden seated in a chair holding a stack of what looks like index cards.

By Charan Ranganath

Dr. Ranganath is a professor of psychology and neuroscience and the director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California, Davis, and the author of the forthcoming book “Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold On to What Matters.”

The special counsel Robert K. Hur’s report, in which he declined to prosecute President Biden for his handling of classified documents, also included a much-debated assessment of Mr. Biden’s cognitive abilities.

“Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

As an expert on memory, I can assure you that everyone forgets. In fact, most of the details of our lives — the people we meet, the things we do and the places we go — will inevitably be reduced to memories that capture only a small fraction of those experiences.

It is normal to be more forgetful as you get older. Generally, memory functions begin to decline in our 30s and continue to fade into old age. However, age in and of itself doesn’t indicate the presence of memory deficits that would affect an individual’s ability to perform in a demanding leadership role. And an apparent memory lapse may or may not be consequential, depending on the reasons it occurred.

There is forgetting, and there is Forgetting. If you’re over the age of 40, you’ve most likely experienced the frustration of trying to grasp that slippery word on the tip of your tongue. Colloquially, this might be described as forgetting, but most memory scientists would call this retrieval failure, meaning that the memory is there but we just can’t pull it up when we need it. On the other hand, Forgetting (with a capital F) is when a memory is seemingly lost or gone altogether. Inattentively conflating the names of the leaders of two countries would fall in the first category, whereas being unable to remember that you had ever met the president of Egypt would fall into the second.

Over the course of typical aging, we see changes in the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, a brain area that plays a starring role in many of our day-to-day memory successes and failures. These changes mean that as we get older, we tend to be more distractible and often struggle to pull up words or names we’re looking for. Remembering events takes longer, and it requires more effort, and we can’t catch errors as quickly as we used to. This translates to a lot more forgetting and a little more Forgetting.

Many of the special counsel’s observations about Mr. Biden’s memory seem to fall in the category of forgetting, meaning that they are more indicative of a problem with finding the right information from memory than Forgetting. Calling up the date that an event occurred, like the last year of Mr. Biden’s vice presidency or the year of his son’s death, is a complex measure of memory. Remembering that an event took place is different from being able to put a date on when it happened, which is more challenging with increased age. The president very likely has many memories, even though he could not immediately pull up dates in the stressful (and more immediately pressing) context of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Other “memory” issues highlighted in the media are not so much cases of forgetting as they are of difficulties in the articulation of facts and knowledge. For instance, in July 2023, Mr. Biden mistakenly stated in a speech that “we have over 100 people dead,” when he should have said, “over one million.” He has struggled with a stutter since childhood, and research suggests that managing a stutter demands prefrontal resources that would normally enable people to find the right word or at least quickly correct errors after the fact.

Americans are understandably concerned about the advanced age of the two top contenders in the coming presidential election (Mr. Biden is 81, and Donald Trump is 77), although some of these concerns are rooted in cultural stereotypes and fears around aging. The fact is that there is a huge degree of variability in cognitive aging. Age is, on average, associated with decreased memory, but studies that follow up the same person over several years have shown that although some older adults show precipitous declines over time, other super-agers remain as sharp as ever.

Mr. Biden is the same age as Harrison Ford, Paul McCartney and Martin Scorsese. He’s also a bit younger than Jane Fonda (86) and a lot younger than the Berkshire Hathaway C.E.O., Warren Buffett (93). All these individuals are considered to be at the top of their professions, and yet I would not be surprised if they are more forgetful and absent-minded than when they were younger. In other words, an individual’s age does not say anything definitive about the person’s cognitive status or where it will head in the near future.

I can’t speak to the cognitive status of any of the presidential candidates, but I can say that, rather than focus on candidates’ ages per se, we should consider whether they have the capabilities to do the job. Public perception of a person’s cognitive state is often determined by superficial factors, such as physical presence, confidence and verbal fluency, but these aren’t necessarily relevant to one’s capacity to make consequential decisions about the fate of this country. Memory is surely relevant, but other characteristics, such as knowledge of the relevant facts and emotion regulation — both of which are relatively preserved and might even improve with age — are likely to be of equal or greater importance.

Ultimately, we are due for a national conversation about what we should expect in terms of the cognitive and emotional health of our leaders.

And that should be informed by science, not politics.

Charan Ranganath is a professor of psychology and neuroscience and the director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California, Davis, and the author of “ Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold On to What Matters .”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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  • Topic Wise Essay Questions From UPSC Mains 1994 2018

Last 25 Years Topic-wise Essay Questions From UPSC Mains (1994 - 2018)

Paper I of the UPSC Civil Services mains exam is the Essay. Here, prelims-qualified IAS aspirants have to write two essays out of a few given topics. The paper is for a total of 250 marks and its marks are taken into consideration for the Final Merit List. In this article, we have listed all the essay topics asked in the UPSC mains exam from 1994 to 2018. We have also classified the last 25 years essay questions into topics to make your preparation easier.

Latest – See the UPSC Essay Topics in the IAS Mains 2020 Essay Paper. Download UPSC Mains 2020 Essay Paper from the linked article.

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UPSC Essay Topics

Administration.

  • Politics, bureaucracy and business – fatal triangle. (1994)
  • Politics without ethics is a disaster. (1995)
  • The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy. (1996)
  • Need for transparency in public administration. (1996)
  • The country’s need for a better disaster management system. (2000)
  • How should a civil servant conduct himself? (2003)

Democracy/India since independence

  • Whither Indian democracy? (1995)
  • What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. (1997)
  • Why should we be proud of being Indians? (2000)
  • What have we gained from our democratic set-up? (2001)
  • How far has democracy in India delivered the goods? (2003)
  • National identity and patriotism. (2008)
  • In the context of Gandhiji’s views on the matter, explore, on an evolutionary scale, the terms ‘Swadhinata’, ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Dharmarajya’. Critically comment on their contemporary relevance to Indian democracy. (2012)
  • Is the colonial mentality hindering India’s success? (2013)
  • Dreams which should not let India sleep. (2015)
  • Management of Indian border disputes – a complex task. (2018)

Economic growth and development

  • Resource management in the Indian context. (1999)
  • GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country. (2013)
  • Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country? (2014)
  • Crisis faced in India – moral or economic. (2015)
  • Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms. (2016)
  • Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality. (2016)
  • Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare. (2016)
  • Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India. (2017)

Federalism, Decentralisation

  • The language problem in India: its past, present and prospects. (1998)
  • Water resources should be under the control of the central government. (2004)
  • Evaluation of panchayati raj system in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people. (2007)
  • Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? (2007)
  • Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implication. (2011)
  • Cooperative federalism: Myth or reality. (2016)
  • Water disputes between States in federal India. (2016)

Indian Culture & Society

  • The Indian society at the crossroads. (1994)
  • New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion. (1996)
  • The composite culture of India. (1998)
  • Youth culture today. (1999)
  • Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. (2000)
  • Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? (2000)
  • As civilization advances culture declines. (2003)
  • From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? (2010)
  • Judicial activism. (1997)
  • Judicial activism and Indian democracy. (2004)
  • Justice must reach the poor. (2005)

Social justice/Poverty

  • Reservation, politics and empowerment. (1999)
  • Food security for sustainable national development. (2005)
  • The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society. (2009)
  • Farming has lost the ability to be a source of subsistence for the majority of farmers in India. (2017)
  • Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. (2018)

Media & Society

  • Misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India. (1998)
  • Mass media and cultural invasion. (1999)
  • Responsibility of media in a democracy. (2002)
  • How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets? (2007)
  • Role of media in good governance. (2008)
  • Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it? (2011)
  • Is sting operation an invasion on privacy? (2014)

Environment/Urbanisation

  • Urbanization is a blessing in disguise. (1997)
  • Protection of ecology and environment is essential for sustained economic development. (2006)
  • Urbanisation and its hazards. (2008)
  • Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country? (2010)
  • We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. (2017)

Economic sectors/MNCs

  • Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs. (1994)
  • Globalization would finish small-scale industries in India. (2006)
  • BPO boom in India. (2007)
  • Special economic zone: boon or bane? (2008)
  • Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death? (2009)
  • Is the criticism that the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model for development is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context, justified? (2012)
  • Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India? (2014)
  • Restructuring of Indian education system. (1995)
  • Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education. (1996)
  • Irrelevance of the classroom. (2001)
  • Privatization of higher education in India. (2002)
  • Modern technological education and human values. (2002)
  • What is real education? (2005)
  • “Education for all” campaign in India: myth or reality. (2006)
  • Independent thinking should be encouraged right from the childhood. (2007)
  • Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses? (2008)
  • Credit – based higher education system – status, opportunities and challenges. (2011)
  • Is the growing level of competition good for the youth? (2014)
  • Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress? (2014)
  • Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil. (2015)
  • Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms. (2017)
  • The new emerging women power: the ground realities. (1995)
  • Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight. (1997)
  • Woman is god’s best creation. (1998)
  • Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. (1999)
  • Empowerment alone cannot help our women. (2001)
  • Whither women’s emancipation? (2004)
  • If women ruled the world. (2005)
  • The hand that rocks the cradle. (2005)
  • Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in India. (2006)
  • Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal? (2012)
  • If development is not engendered, it is endangered. (2016)
  • Fulfillment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth. (2017)

Quotes-based/Philosophy

  • Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret. (1994)
  • Useless life is an early death. (1994)
  • Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. (1995)
  • When money speaks, the truth is silent. (1995)
  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. (1995)
  • Truth is lived, not taught. (1996)
  • True religion cannot be misused. (1997)
  • Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. (2002)
  • The paths of glory lead but to the grave. (2002)
  • If youth knew, if age could. (2002)
  • There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (2003)
  • Be the change you want to see in others. (2013)
  • With greater power comes greater responsibility. (2014)
  • Words are sharper than the two-edged sword. (2014)
  • Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole. (2015)
  • “The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values. (2018)
  • Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it. (2018)
  • Attitude makes habit, habit makes character and character makes a man. (2007)
  • Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin. (2008)
  • Character of an institution is reflected in its leader. (2015)
  • Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. (2016)
  • Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. (2017)
  • A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. (2018)
  • A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both. (2018)
  • Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life. (2018)

Globalisation

  • Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. (1994)
  • The world of the twenty-first century. (1998)
  • The implications of globalization for India. (2000)
  • My vision of an ideal world order. (2001)
  • The masks of new imperialism. (2003)
  • Globalizations and its impact on Indian culture. (2004)
  • ‘Globalization’ vs. ‘nationalism’. (2009)
  • Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role. (2010)

Science & Tech

  • The modern doctor and his patients. (1997)
  • Value-based science and education. (1999)
  • The march of science and the erosion of human values. (2001)
  • Spirituality and scientific temper. (2003)
  • The lure of space. (2004)
  • Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible? (2012)
  • Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation. (2013)
  • Technology cannot replace manpower. (2015)
  • Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India. (2018)

Internet/IT

  • The cyberworld: its charms and challenges. (2000)
  • Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. (2006)
  • Cyberspace and Internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run. (2016)
  • Social media is inherently a selfish medium. (2017)

International organisations/relations

  • Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities. (1996)
  • India’s role in promoting ASEAN cooperation. (2004)
  • Importance of Indo-US nuclear agreement. (2006)
  • Has the Non- Alignment Movement (NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world. (2017)
  • Terrorism and world peace. (2005)
  • Are we a ‘soft’ state? (2009)
  • Good fences make good neighbours. (2009)
  • In the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism. (2011)

Miscellaneous

  • India’s contribution to world wisdom. (1998)
  • The pursuit of excellence. (2001)
  • Geography may remain the same; history need not. (2010)
  • Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India? (2014)
  • Quick but steady wins the race. (2015)

When preparing for IAS Mains, aspirants must focus on UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practise as this will improve one’s speed, efficiency and writing skills. It will automatically help in essay writing as well. 

Also, read:

Frequently Asked Questions on UPSC Essay Topics for UPSC Mains

Q 1. how can i write a good essay in upsc, q 2. does handwriting matter in upsc.

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Call for Papers: Main Track

Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR) is a well-established and vibrant field of research within Artificial Intelligence. KR builds on the fundamental thesis that knowledge can often be represented in an explicit declarative form, suitable for processing by dedicated symbolic reasoning engines. This enables the exploitation of knowledge that would otherwise be implicit through semantically grounded inference mechanisms. KR has contributed to the theory and practice of various areas of AI, including agents, automated planning, robotics and natural language processing, and to fields beyond AI, including data management, semantic web, verification, software engineering, computational biology, and cybersecurity.

The KR conference series is the leading forum for timely in-depth presentation of progress in the theory and practice of the representation and computational management of knowledge.

KR 2024 will consist of a number of tracks and events. It will include two thematic sessions: KR in the Wild and Reasoning, Learning and Decision-Making . There will be a recently published research (RPR) track, tutorials, workshops, competitions, and a Doctoral Consortium.

We solicit papers presenting novel results on the principles of KR, which clearly contribute to the formal foundations of the field, or show the applicability of KR techniques to implemented or implementable systems. We welcome papers from other areas that demonstrate clear use of, or contributions to, the principles or practice of KR. We also encourage "reports from the field" of applications, experiments, developments, and tests.

Important Dates

Can be found on the respective page .

Topics of Interest

Typical topics of interest include the following, but the list is not exhaustive. The conference welcomes all topics concerned with the explicit representation or management of knowledge, and with the automated inference on the basis of such knowledge.

  • Argumentation
  • Belief change
  • Common-sense reasoning
  • Computational aspects of knowledge representation
  • Description logics
  • Ethical considerations in KR
  • Explanation, abduction and diagnosis
  • Geometric, spatial, and temporal reasoning
  • Inconsistency- and exception-tolerant reasoning
  • Knowledge acquisition
  • Knowledge compilation, automated reasoning, satisfiability and model counting
  • Knowledge representation languages
  • Logic programming, answer set programming
  • Modeling and reasoning about preferences
  • Modeling constraints and constraint solving
  • Multi- and order-sorted representations and reasoning
  • Non-monotonic logics
  • Ontologies and knowledge-enriched data management
  • Philosophical foundations of KR
  • Qualitative reasoning
  • Reasoning about actions and change, action languages
  • Reasoning about knowledge, beliefs, and other mental attitudes
  • Reasoning in knowledge graphs
  • Reasoning in multi-agent systems
  • Semantic web
  • Similarity-based and contextual reasoning
  • Uncertainty and vagueness

Types of Submissions

The Main Track, the KR in the Wild Track, as well as the Reasoning, Learning, and Decision-Making Track will allow contributions of both regular papers (up to 9 pages) and short papers (up to 4 pages) , including abstract, figures, and (if any) appendices but excluding references and acknowledgements, prepared and submitted according to the authors guidelines provided in the submission section .

The Main Track will allow contributions of both regular papers (up to 9 pages) and short papers (up to 4 pages) , including abstract, figures, and (if any) appendices but excluding references and acknowledgements, prepared and submitted according to the authors guidelines provided in the submission section .

Selection Process

The program committee consists of PC members (reviewers) and Area Chairs (ACs), who overview the reviewing and meta-reviewing process.

Selection criteria include the novelty and originality of ideas, correctness, clarity, significance of results, potential impact and quality of the presentation.

Papers violating the format (e.g., by decreasing margins or font sizes) or describing contributions that do not significantly meet the topics of the conference will be desk rejected by the program chairs, without any opportunity to submit an author response. By submitting a paper, authors acknowledge that they are aware of the possibility of receiving a summary rejection notification.

Papers that are not desk rejected will be reviewed by a group of PC members (PCs) and the reviewing process will be supervised by an Area Chair (AC).

During the reviewing period, authors will have the opportunity to respond to reviews by pointing out factual errors and answering specific questions. Author responses should be concise, and are not intended to create a dialogue between reviewers and authors. Author responses will be visible to PCs and ACs. The program co-chairs will make the final decisions and there are no appeals.

Accepted papers will be published in the KR 2024 proceedings. At least one author of each accepted paper is required to participate in the conference and present the work

Prizes for best papers (the Ray Reiter Best Paper Prize and the Marco Cadoli Best Student Paper Prize) may be awarded, and runners-up may be mentioned. Top papers from KR 2024 will be invited to the award-winning paper tracks of Artificial Intelligence (AIJ) and of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (JAIR). Thus, award winners will have the possibility of choosing between AIJ and JAIR.

All submissions will be treated confidentially until the publication date.

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Reproductive rights in America

Research at the heart of a federal case against the abortion pill has been retracted.

Selena Simmons-Duffin

Selena Simmons-Duffin

essay paper mains

The Supreme Court will hear the case against the abortion pill mifepristone on March 26. It's part of a two-drug regimen with misoprostol for abortions in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images hide caption

The Supreme Court will hear the case against the abortion pill mifepristone on March 26. It's part of a two-drug regimen with misoprostol for abortions in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

A scientific paper that raised concerns about the safety of the abortion pill mifepristone was retracted by its publisher this week. The study was cited three times by a federal judge who ruled against mifepristone last spring. That case, which could limit access to mifepristone throughout the country, will soon be heard in the Supreme Court.

The now retracted study used Medicaid claims data to track E.R. visits by patients in the month after having an abortion. The study found a much higher rate of complications than similar studies that have examined abortion safety.

Sage, the publisher of the journal, retracted the study on Monday along with two other papers, explaining in a statement that "expert reviewers found that the studies demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor that invalidates or renders unreliable the authors' conclusions."

It also noted that most of the authors on the paper worked for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of anti-abortion lobbying group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and that one of the original peer reviewers had also worked for the Lozier Institute.

The Sage journal, Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology , published all three research articles, which are still available online along with the retraction notice. In an email to NPR, a spokesperson for Sage wrote that the process leading to the retractions "was thorough, fair, and careful."

The lead author on the paper, James Studnicki, fiercely defends his work. "Sage is targeting us because we have been successful for a long period of time," he says on a video posted online this week . He asserts that the retraction has "nothing to do with real science and has everything to do with a political assassination of science."

He says that because the study's findings have been cited in legal cases like the one challenging the abortion pill, "we have become visible – people are quoting us. And for that reason, we are dangerous, and for that reason, they want to cancel our work," Studnicki says in the video.

In an email to NPR, a spokesperson for the Charlotte Lozier Institute said that they "will be taking appropriate legal action."

Role in abortion pill legal case

Anti-abortion rights groups, including a group of doctors, sued the federal Food and Drug Administration in 2022 over the approval of mifepristone, which is part of a two-drug regimen used in most medication abortions. The pill has been on the market for over 20 years, and is used in more than half abortions nationally. The FDA stands by its research that finds adverse events from mifepristone are extremely rare.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, the district court judge who initially ruled on the case, pointed to the now-retracted study to support the idea that the anti-abortion rights physicians suing the FDA had the right to do so. "The associations' members have standing because they allege adverse events from chemical abortion drugs can overwhelm the medical system and place 'enormous pressure and stress' on doctors during emergencies and complications," he wrote in his decision, citing Studnicki. He ruled that mifepristone should be pulled from the market nationwide, although his decision never took effect.

essay paper mains

Matthew Kacsmaryk at his confirmation hearing for the federal bench in 2017. AP hide caption

Matthew Kacsmaryk at his confirmation hearing for the federal bench in 2017.

Kacsmaryk is a Trump appointee who was a vocal abortion opponent before becoming a federal judge.

"I don't think he would view the retraction as delegitimizing the research," says Mary Ziegler , a law professor and expert on the legal history of abortion at U.C. Davis. "There's been so much polarization about what the reality of abortion is on the right that I'm not sure how much a retraction would affect his reasoning."

Ziegler also doubts the retractions will alter much in the Supreme Court case, given its conservative majority. "We've already seen, when it comes to abortion, that the court has a propensity to look at the views of experts that support the results it wants," she says. The decision that overturned Roe v. Wade is an example, she says. "The majority [opinion] relied pretty much exclusively on scholars with some ties to pro-life activism and didn't really cite anybody else even or really even acknowledge that there was a majority scholarly position or even that there was meaningful disagreement on the subject."

In the mifepristone case, "there's a lot of supposition and speculation" in the argument about who has standing to sue, she explains. "There's a probability that people will take mifepristone and then there's a probability that they'll get complications and then there's a probability that they'll get treatment in the E.R. and then there's a probability that they'll encounter physicians with certain objections to mifepristone. So the question is, if this [retraction] knocks out one leg of the stool, does that somehow affect how the court is going to view standing? I imagine not."

It's impossible to know who will win the Supreme Court case, but Ziegler thinks that this retraction probably won't sway the outcome either way. "If the court is skeptical of standing because of all these aforementioned weaknesses, this is just more fuel to that fire," she says. "It's not as if this were an airtight case for standing and this was a potentially game-changing development."

Oral arguments for the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA , are scheduled for March 26 at the Supreme Court. A decision is expected by summer. Mifepristone remains available while the legal process continues.

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Call for Papers: RoME 2024

The seventeenth annnual Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (RoME), to be held on the CU campus August 8-11, 2024, has issued its Call for Papers. See the Call and information here: https://www.colorado.edu/cvsp/events/rocky-mountain-ethics-congress/rome-2024 . RoME is sponsored by the Center for Values and Social Policy .

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