Our long-running annual series of conferences has now reached its 29th year and once again was held at Peterhouse College, Cambridge in December. This is the eighteenth conference we have organised at Peterhouse since the series moved to Cambridge in December 1992. This year's Conference Chair was again Miltos Petridis from the University of Greenwich, with Frans Coenen as Deputy Conference Chair for Local Arrangements. Adrian Hopgood acted as Workshop Organiser. The Application Stream Chair was Richard Ellis, with Tony Allen as Deputy Chair. I acted as Technical Stream Chair, with Frans Coenen as Deputy Chair. The poster sessions were organised by Nirmalie Wiratunga. Alice Kerly and Kirsty Bradbrook were responsible for Research Student liaison. The fourteenth UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop, which ran during the first day of the conference, was organised by Miltos Petridis. Rosemary Gilligan acted as Treasurer. Our conference administrator was Rachel Browning from our parent body the British Computer Society, with paper administration by Bryony Bramer. Richard Ellis, Alice Kerly and Rachel Browning were responsible for the conference registration desk. I should like to thank all those involved for their continued efforts on our behalf.
The final programme included papers by authors from 17 countries spread across four continents. All papers submitted were reviewed by an international panel of expert referees. The prize for the best paper in the technical stream was once again sponsored by Hewlett-Packard. There were also prizes awarded for the best paper in the application stream, the best poster and the best paper of which the principal author was a student. As well as the fourteenth UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop, and other workshops, the conference included the fifth in a series of UK Workshops on AI in Education, this time organised by Colin Price from the University of Worcester. An important development this year was a much enhanced application programme for the final day of the conference which was also marketed as a separate one-day event entitled 'Real AI Day 2009'. I would like to thank Richard Ellis for all his efforts in setting up this new venture. Papers accepted for poster presentation were again published as short papers in the proceedings. The Group once again subsidised a reduced rate for non-presenting students.
The Machine Intelligence competition ran for the eighth year as a showcase for new developments 'towards machine intelligence' and was co-organised by John Gordon (AKRI Ltd.), Richard Ellis and myself, with Chris Needham (University of Leeds) as webmaster. We again used the ConferenceExpert system for electronic submission and reviewing of papers, which proved very successful. Following a downturn in the number of refereed papers accepted this year, the conference proceedings were published by Springer in a single volume under the title Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XXVI, incorporating Applications and Innovations in Intelligent Systems XVII. A Special Issue of the international journal Knowledge Based Systems appeared during the year, reprinting the best papers from each stream of AI-2008. A further special issue containing the best refereed papers from each stream of AI-2009 is now in production.
Our Research Student Forum, FAIRS, continued for a third year. This is a free event for PhD and MRes/MPhil research students in the AI field organised by Alice Kerly and Kirsty Bradbrook, which ran on a preliminary day before the workshop day of the conference. The Forum offered students the opportunity to meet other research students and to discuss their work with senior researchers and practitioners, with sessions covering guidance on conducting research and writing a thesis, feedback on research and research plans, and advice on undergoing a viva.
It is expected that our thirtieth annual conference, AI-2010, will be held in Cambridge in December next year.
Our programme of low-cost one-day symposia continued during 2009 with the fifth UK KDD workshop, which was held in Salford in April. Further events are planned for 2010.
Our members' journal Expert Update did not appear during the year. A high priority for the coming year will be to get this valuable publication back into production. The use of the Groupís website and list server, known for historical reasons as AI-SGES, has continued to develop. The service is open to all (whether or not they are members of the Group) and is free of charge. Full information is available on the Group's website. The Members' Area on the Group's website provides downloading access to the full text of Expert Update back to Volume 8, No.1 as well as access to the full text of the ECCAI journal AI Communications, a state-of-the art review of AI and the SGAI 'AI Information Portal'. Further facilities and services for members will be added as time goes by. A password needed to access the Members' Area has been circulated to all members.
During the year discussions continued with SSAISB, the other British-based AI society, with a view to making a joint bid to bring ECAI, the largest European AI conference, to Britain in 2014. For this to go ahead, a bid needs to be submitted during 2010.
The role, membership and financing of Specialist Groups have continued to be significant topics of discussion in our parent body, the British Computer Society, during the year. Following a change in membership policy last year, the Group's membership has risen to almost 1,000, none of whom any longer pay us a membership fee. This has created some financial difficulties for the Group.
During the course of the year Alun Preece left the committee, thus giving us three committee posts to be filled by election at the 2009 AGM.