Expert Systems '96, the Group's sixteenth annual international conference was held in December 1996 at St. John's College, Cambridge and continued our run of successful conferences since returning to Cambridge in 1992. The conference proceedings were again published in book form, the technical proceedings as the thirteenth volume in the 'Research and Development in Expert Systems' series and the proceedings of the applications stream as the fourth volume in the 'Applications and Innovations in Expert Systems' series.
Ian Watson acted as conference chairman, with John Nealon as chairman of the technical stream and Ann Macintosh as chairman of the applications stream. The conference was again organised by The Conference Team. As well as a strong technical stream, the applications stream reinforced the position of these annual conferences as the major European forum for the presentation of applications papers in the area of Knowledge-Based Systems and Applied Artificial Intelligence.
For our seventeenth annual conference in December 1997 we are returning to Churchill College, Cambridge, the venue for our third conference back in 1983 and also for our return to Cambridge in 1992. I shall be acting as conference chairman, with John Hunt and Ann Macintosh as chairmen of the technical and application streams, respectively.
An election for officers took place in December 1996 with the result announced at the 1996 AGM. The following were elected unopposed:
Ann Macintosh became the Group's membership officer at the beginning of 1997 and Mrs. Kit Stones became our membership administrator. Membership cards have been re- introduced and have been sent to all paid-up members.
During the year an experiment took place to link the group more closely to the DTI Technology Transfer Clubs (TTCs) which were all given the opportunity to become Affiliated Members of SGES. Although a useful start has been made the full potential of this closer relationship has yet to be realised.
Our relaunched programme of free evening meetings in London continued, initially at the Institution of Electrical Engineers and subsequently at City University. The organisers are now Ilesh Dattani (University of Bristol) and David Dodson (City University). The series is expected to continue on approximately a monthly basis during the next year.
There has been a hiatus in the distribution of the ECCAI publication AI Communications during the year which is outside the Group's control. It is expected that distribution of the journal (free of charge to SGES members) will resume in the near future. This service is a benefit of membership of ECCAI which is paid for by SGES on members' behalf.
Our programme of co-sponsored events with the Institution of Electrical Engineers and other bodies continued throughout the year, with SGES members receiving discounts on the registration fees at a significant number of events.
The next biennial ECCAI conference will be held in Brighton in 1998, organised by AISB, the other British member of ECCAI. SGES is represented on the organising committee by Ann Macintosh. Our own future planning of events includes a bid for the major international Artificial Intelligence conference IJCAI in 2005 (the first available slot for the conference, which is held in Europe at most once every four years). We have previously indicated our intention to bid for this event to the senior members of IJCAI on an informal basis and have made initial plans, but it is still too early to submit a formal bid.
The use of our list server, AI-SGES, on the University of Newcastle Mailbase system has continued to expand during the year. The service is open to all (whether or not they are members of SGES) and is free of charge. Members of other member organisations of ECCAI have been invited to join and a number have already done so.
The SGES pages on the World-Wide Web, hosted by the University of Portsmouth, have been significantly redesigned and reorganised during the year. We should be interested to receive suggestions for further extensions. The SGES home page is now located at
The committee of SGES is currently reviewing the range of services it offers to members. A questionnaire has been drawn up by Richard Ellis and will be circulated (on paper) to all SGES members and (by email) to all subscribers to the AI-SGES mailbase in the near future.
Finally, we are always interested in bringing 'new blood' on to the committee. If you are interested in taking an active role in the Group's organisation we should be pleased to hear from you.
Max Bramer - Chairman SGES