Annual General Meeting

December 16th 1998
Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Chairman's Report to AGM

The Groupís major activity during the year was the organisation of its eighteenth annual international conference, Expert Systems 98, which was held at Peterhouse College in December 1998.

I acted as conference chairman this year, with Richard Ellis as Deputy Conference Chairman and Ian Watson as tutorial organiser. The technical stream was organized by Roger Miles and Mike Moulton, and the application stream was organized by Rob Milne and Ann Macintosh. These annual conferences are a major European forum for the presentation of papers in the area of Knowledge-Based Systems and Applied Artificial Intelligence, particularly for application papers. A large part of the day-to-day work of organizing this yearís conference has fallen on our Treasurer Rob Milne and his colleague Linsay Turbert who was this yearís Conference Administrator. I am most grateful to both Rob and Linsay for all their work on our behalf.

There have been two important developments concerning the publication of papers accepted for these annual conferences. From now on the proceedings will be published by Springer-Verlag in its BCS Conference Series. Springer are a leading publisher of technical books in many fields and this agreement will add significantly to the status of our proceedings as well as making them more accessible for purchase or reference after the event. The proceedings of ES98 are being published as two books, the technical proceedings as the fifteenth volume in the 'Research and Development in Expert Systems' series and the proceedings of the applications stream as the sixth volume in the 'Applications and Innovations in Expert Systems' series.

As a consequence of this new relationship with Springer, the Group has also secured a discounted price for two Springer journals (Neural Computing & Applications and Pattern Analysis & Applications) for its members. Springer will also give SGES members a 25% discount on all its other publications.

The second development is that an agreement has been made with the international journal Knowledge-Based Systems to reprint the best refereed papers, as judged by our two programme committees, in a special issue of the journal, under my editorship, on an annual basis from now on. The special issue containing the best 6 papers from each stream of ES97 is expected to appear this month. A second special issue, containing the best 7 papers from each stream of ES98 is in preparation and is expected to appear in the summer of 1999.

The Groupís membership is now administered by Ms. Deirdre Burke at the AI Applications Institute (University of Edinburgh). I should like to thank our membership officer Ann Macintosh for her help in arranging for this important activity to be handled by AIAI. In line with our policy in the two previous years, non-members attending ES98 and paying the full registration fee have been given a yearís free membership expiring December 31st 1999. Existing members do not receive this concession but are able to attend the conference for a reduced registration fee.

During the year Frans Coenen joined the committee as Newsletter Editor. The Newsletter had appeared only occasionally in previous years but has now been relaunched in a new and much improved form as Expert Update. I should like to thank Frans for all the effort which has gone into this important development.

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.

SGES is a member of ECCAI, the European Co-ordinating Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and hence our members were entitled to discounted registration fees at the important conference ECAI-98, the latest in a biennial series of international conferences which this year was held in Brighton. Ann Macintosh and Rob Milne attended the ECCAI General Assembly in August on the Groupís behalf and I am pleased to be able to report that Rob Milne was elected to the Board of ECCAI and will thus be able to play a more direct part in steering this important body in future.

Members may also like to know that during the course of the year I accepted a personal invitation from the British Computer Society to serve as the BCS representative on Technical Committee 12 (Artificial Intelligence) of IFIP, the International Federation for Information Processing.

The Groupís long-standing programme of free evening lectures in London appeared to be operating well this time last year, but since then no further lectures have been organized. I am very pleased to announce that the series will be relaunched from January 1999 at Birkbeck College in London, with an enthusiastic new organizer, Dr. Hui Liu.

During the course of the year the Groupís website was greatly expanded. We now have our own Internet domain name and have relocated the site to a commercial Internet Service Provider. I should like to thank the University of Portsmouth for hosting this service in its startup phase. The Groupís web URL is now http://www.bcs-sges.org.

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 organizations of ECCAI have been invited to join and a number have already done so. Full information about this service is available on our website.

Finally, we are always interested in bringing new members on to our committee. If you are interested in taking an active role in the Group's future activities we would be pleased to hear from you.

Max Bramer
Chairman, SGES