Annual General Meeting

December 13th 2000

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Chairman's Report to AGM

This has been another active year for SGES, ending with ES2000, our twentieth annual conference, which as in the previous two years was held at Peterhouse College, Cambridge. These conferences remain an important European forum for the presentation of papers in the area of Knowledge-Based Systems and Applied Artificial Intelligence.

Frans Coenen acted as conference chairman again this year, with Rob Milne and Richard Ellis as Deputy Conference Chairmen responsible for Finance and Publicity and for the conference exhibition respectively, and Adrian Hopgood as tutorial organiser. The technical stream was organized by myself and Alun Preece, and the application stream was organized by Ann Macintosh and Mike Moulton. Our conference administrator was Maria Doran from the University of Liverpool, with help from Linsay Turbert (Intelligent Applications) and Deirdre Burke (University of Edinburgh). I am most grateful to all those involved for their work on our behalf.

The conference attracted papers from all parts of the UK and more than 10 other countries. All papers submitted were reviewed by an international panel of expert referees.

A new feature of this year's conference was the incorporation of the 5th UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop (UKCBR5), which ran during the tutorial day of the conference. A special delegate rate was made available for workshop delegates attending the conference on the following two days. SGES also subsidised a reduced rate for non-presenting students. I should like to thank Brian Lees (University of Paisley) for organising the workshop on behalf of SGES. It is anticipated that the UK CBR workshops will now become a regular feature of the SGES annual conferences.

Another valuable innovation this year was the introduction of credit card payments of the conference registration fee. This has taken several years for us to negotiate with our parent body, the British Computer Society. I should like to thank our Treasurer, Rob Milne, for his persistence in pursuing this matter.

As before, the conference proceedings have been published in two volumes by Springer-Verlag in its BCS Conference Series: the technical proceedings as Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XVII and the proceedings of the applications stream as Applications and Innovations in Intelligent Systems VIII.

A Special Issue of the international journal Knowledge Based Systems appeared during the year, reprinting the best six papers from each stream of ES99. A further special issue containing the best refereed papers from each stream of ES2000 is now in production.

Publication of our new journal Expert Update continued during the year under the editorship of Frans Coenen. This is a valuable publication which is only available to SGES members.

Two new members joined the SGES Committee during the year: Alun Preece (University of Aberdeen), who was the winner of the prize for the best refereed technical paper at ES99, and Dr. Adrian Hopgood (Open University). Mike Moulton was appointed as the Group's Secretary.

Ann Macintosh continued to organise the Group's membership administration and regular paper mailings to members, assisted by Deirdre Burke.

Our long-running series of London evening lectures continued during the year, organised by Dr. Hui Liu at Birkbeck College, University of London. A further series of lectures is planned for the new year. These will continue to be based at Birkbeck College, with a new organiser: Dr. Chris Christodoulou.

SGES is a member of ECCAI, the European Co-ordinating Committee on Artificial Intelligence, which has member societies in virtually every country in both Western and Eastern Europe. I am very pleased to be able to report that Rob Milne was elected as the Chair of ECCAI at the latest ECCAI conference (ECAI-2000) which was held in Berlin in August and has also been appointed as an ECCAI Fellow.

ECCAI has decided to make the full text of its international journal AI Communications available free of charge to SGES members via the world-wide web. Issues published in the last three years (volumes 10 to 12) are currently available and others will be added in due course. Details of how to access the AI Communications electronic archive and the necessary identifier and password have been sent to all paid-up SGES members. The print version of AI Communications is also available at a special rate to individual members of SGES. ECCAI also offers a number of other benefits to members of its member societies. Details are given on the SGES website.

A valuable spin-off of our relationship with Springer-Verlag has been the negotiation of a substantial discount on two of the publisher's journals, Neural Computing & Applications and Pattern Analysis and Applications, and a reduction on all other Springer publications. Again, details are given on the SGES website.

Preparations for the Group's bid to host the biennial IJCAI conference in Edinburgh in 2005 continued during the year, led by Rob Milne. Our preparations have already been underway for several years, even though the formal bidding period has not yet opened. It now appears that SGES has a strong chance of success in bringing this major international conference back to Britain for the first time since 1971. A detailed proposal is now being drawn up for formal presentation at the IJCAI conference in Seattle in August 2001.

An important new development earlier in the year was the launch of a new series of SGES workshops, looking at applications of Knowledge-Based Systems and Intelligent Systems in the 21st Century with the goals of promoting discussion, reviewing progress and identifying new opportunities. This new venture got off to a good start with a one-day event on Intelligent Systems in the Knowledge-Driven Economy, held at the University of Liverpool in May, which continued the theme begun with the workshop on Knowledge Management at ES99. Further events are currently being planned for the new year.

The Group has had discussions with NCAF, the Natural Computing Applications Forum, about possible co-operation between the two groups, leading to the co-option of Richard Ellis to the committee of NCAF as SGES representative.

Our involvement in outside bodies continues to expand. As well as Rob Milne's new role as Chair of ECCAI, I am now the UK representative on the Artificial Intelligence Technical Committee of IFIP, the International Federation for Information Processing, and have also recently accepted an invitation to join a working group on IT research strategy set up by the BCS, which will include the chairmen of a number of Specialist Groups including SGES. The first meeting of the group is scheduled for mid-December.

The use of the Groupís website and list server, AI-SGES, has continued to develop. The latter service is open to all (whether or not they are members of SGES) and is free of charge. Full information about this service is available on our website. Use of these electronic media is likely to become of increasing importance in the future.

Finally, we are always looking for new members to join the SGES Committee. Meetings are held in London 3 or 4 times a year as well as during the annual conference. If you are interested in taking an active role in the organisation of the Group's future activities we would be pleased to hear from you.

Max Bramer
Chairman, SGES