Annual General Meeting

December 12th 2001

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Chairman's Report to AGM

This has been another successful year for SGES, ending with ES2001, our twenty-first annual conference, which once again was held at Peterhouse College, Cambridge.

Alun Preece acted as conference chairman this year. Rob Milne and Richard Ellis again acted as Deputy Conference Chairmen with Adrian Hopgood as Tutorial Organiser. The technical stream was organized by myself and Frans Coenen, and the application stream was organized by Ann Macintosh and Mike Moulton. Our conference administrator was Lynn Harrison from the University of Aberdeen, with help from Linsay Turbert (Intelligent Applications). I am most grateful to all those involved for their continuing efforts on our behalf. The conference attracted papers from over 20 countries in four continents as well as all parts of the UK. As in the past, all papers submitted were reviewed by an international panel of expert referees. The conference included the sixth UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop (UKCBR 6), which ran during the first day of the conference, alongside the tutorials. A special delegate rate was made available for tutorial or workshop delegates attending the conference on the following two days. SGES also subsidised a reduced rate for non-presenting students. An innovation this year was the introduction of free registration together with assistance towards travel expenses for a limited number of full-time research students attending the tutorial/workshop day. An important new development this year was the launch event for what it is hoped will become a regular series of competitions for 'Progress Towards Machine Intelligence'. The conference proceedings were published in two volumes by Springer-Verlag in its BCS Conference Series: the technical proceedings as Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XVIII and the proceedings of the applications stream as Applications and Innovations in Intelligent Systems IX.

A Special Issue of the international journal Knowledge Based Systems appeared during the year, reprinting the best six papers from each stream of ES2000. A further special issue containing the best refereed papers from each stream of ES2001 is now in production.

Publication of our new journal Expert Update continued during the year under the editorship of Frans Coenen. This is an excellent publication, which is a valuable benefit of membership.

Ann Macintosh continued as the Group's Membership Officer. During the course of the year day-to-day responsibility for membership administration and (paper) mailings to members was transferred from the University of Edinburgh to the British Computer Society. It is hoped that this will enable us to introduce membership subscription payments by direct debit in the near future.

I am very pleased to be able to report that a bid by SGES to host the 2005 IJCAI Conference was accepted by the IJCAI Trustees at their recent meeting in Seattle. The biennial IJCAI (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence) conferences are the premier world forum for presenting advances in Artificial Intelligence. It is a great achievement to have been able to bring the conference back to Britain after an absence of over 30 years and this is largely due to the efforts of our Treasurer, Rob Milne, who has led the preparations for our bid over the last few years. The IJCAI-2005 conference will be held in Edinburgh. It will be timed to finish just before the Edinburgh Festival and is likely to attract a large number of delegates from all parts of the world. SGES will be organising the conference jointly with the University of Edinburgh. Further information will be circulated and also placed on the SGES website as it becomes available.

I attended the General Assembly of ECCAI, the European Co-ordinating Committee on Artificial Intelligence, held in Prague in July, as the Group's representative. ECCAI is now the largest AI grouping in the world. It comprises 26 national AI societies from both Western and Eastern Europe, representing over 6,000 individual members. The Group's membership of ECCAI carries benefits of growing value to our members. ECCAI issues a regular electronic news bulletin. The journal AI Communications is available free of charge to SGES members in electronic form. There is also a fully electronic ECCAI journal: Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence (ETAI). SGES members receive reduced registration fees at all ECCAI conferences, including ECAI-2002 in Lyon next July. Travel grants are available for students attending ECCAI conferences and summer schools. There is also an annual prize for the best AI dissertation by a member of an ECCAI member society. Details of all ECCAI membership benefits are available on the SGES and ECCAI websites.

The Group's relationship with NCAF, the Natural Computing Applications Forum, has continued. Richard Ellis is the SGES representative on the NCAF committee. The two Societies have offered reduced registration fees to each other's members at their conferences.

Our long-running series of London evening lectures continued during the year. It is now organised by Dr. Chris Christodoulou at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Our involvement in outside bodies continues to expand. As well as Richard Ellis' membership of the NCAF Committee, Rob Milne's role as Chair of ECCAI and mine as the UK representative on the Artificial Intelligence Technical Committee of IFIP, the International Federation for Information Processing, I have recently been elected to the British Computer Society's newly formed Specialist Groups Executive Committee.

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 is available on the SGES website.

In 2002, SGES will be co-sponsoring the Sixth European Conference on Case-Based Reasoning (ECCBR 2002) which will be held in Aberdeen, Scotland from September 4th-7th. The conference chair is Professor Susan Craw (Robert Gordon University). The co-chair is Alun Preece.

Finally, we recently launched a new series of workshops, looking at applications of Knowledge-Based Systems and Intelligent Systems in the 21st Century. The goals of these workshops are to promote discussion, review progress, and identify new opportunities. The workshops may have a technology or an applications emphasis. The first workshop in the series was on "Intelligent Systems in the Knowledge-Driven Economy" held at Liverpool University in May 2000, from which very positive feedback was obtained. We invite all SGES members to submit proposals for workshops under this scheme.

Max Bramer
Chairman, SGES