During their meeting in Stockholm on June 3rd 1994, the ERCIM Directors have unanimously accepted SZTAKI and SGFI as new members. ERCIM now gathers thirteen members in as many European countries.
SGFI, Schweizerische Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Informatik und ihrer Anwendungen (Swiss Society for the Advancement of Informatics and its Applications) is an independent association founded in 1989 with the purpose of supporting the Swiss computer science community in its efforts to establish and maintain contacts with international collaborative efforts in research.
Members of the society come from departments and institutes of computer sciences and associated fields at Swiss universities. Additional members are gathered from research establishments in private industry. SGFI is directed by a board which is elected by its members.
For the main part, the society is financed by the Swiss government and charged with monitoring the development of international research programs in Computer Science and with proposing the support of potential Swiss participants by obtaining early information and access to such programmes. This role is recognized by the Association of Swiss Informatics Societies (SVI).
The SGFI periodically organizes seminars and workshops with the goal of establishing contacts between academic and industrial researchers. The purpose is to familiarize Swiss researchers with new scientific and technical developments, particularly those that are in the process of becoming national or international collaborative research programmes. SGFI actively promotes the development of such efforts but does not itself engage in research. Its members have taken part in various international programmes, such as Esprit, Race etc. The society collaborates with national organizations in Germany and Italy in support of the ICSI, the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, and negotiates the exchange of students, postdocs and senior visitors to that institute. It also takes charge of other such exchange programmes as they develop.
SZTAKI is the Hungarian acronym for Computer and Automation Institute. It is the second largest institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. SZTAKI performs R&D in the fields of intelligent engineering systems, informatics and computer science, integrated design, control systems and information management systems. It has a staff of ca 350, of which 250 are university graduates. The institute is located in Budapest.
SZTAKI's central building in Budapest
SZTAKI was founded in 1972. It carries out fundamental research, contract-based targeted research as well as development of custom-designed computer applications and turn-key systems. In 1990 the Institute underwent a major restructuring process whereby three autonomous units were formed in order to clearly separate the main types of activities: the Autonomous Research Division (AKE), the Autonomous Development Division (AFE) and the Academic Infrastructure Division (ASZI).
The Institute has established a significant network of international contacts both with industrial and academic partners. An example for the first type of cooperation is SZTAKI's participation in the Digital Equipment Research Programme, while for the second the cooperation with the University of California in Berkeley on new computer architectures is worth mentioning. The development of a new relationship between Hungary and the European Union enabled the Institute to participate in various research and technical development programmes of the EU. The professional and academic training activity has been expanded in recent years, too.
In line with major innovations in the Hungarian educational system, the Institute has assumed an important new role in higher education by actively participating in setting up and super-vising of doctoral programs in cooperation with a number of Hungarian universities.
The Research Division
The Research Division is structured into eight laboratories, employing about 90 researchers and Ph.D. students altogether. The laboratories are: "Artificial Intelligence", "Computer Integrated Manufacturing", "Analogical (Dual) and Neural Computing Systems", "Geometric Modelling", "Informatics", "Mathematical Physics and Combinatorics", "Operations Research and Decision Systems", "Systems and Control". The aim of the Research Division is to carry out fundamental research that is related to the strategic directions of the Institute. Basic funding is provided by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Cognitive aspects of artificial intelligence and expert systems are studied to get representations of human decision methods. As a major application a medical system for early diagnosis has been developed. Applications of AI-related methods and techniques in mechanical engineering, representation of design process are another key area of research.
Computer Integrated and Intelligent Manufacturing
Examination of flexible manufacturing system and cooperative problem-solving in intelligent computer aided design (ICAD), design and evaluation of advanced manufacturing systems, application of the methods of concurrent engineering are main areas of interest. The laboratory opened the first Manufacturing Automation Protocol (MAP) Training Centre in Central-Eastern Europe.
Analogical (Dual) and Neural Computing Systems
Neural computing systems are considered as a model of non-linear dynamic uniform processor arrays where the analogue processors are placed on a geometrical grid. The 2D grid structure of the non-linear dynamic processors is a natural framework for image processing of grey scale pictures. The first fully tested CNN chip (made at U.C. Berkeley) has a remarkable computing power: 0.3 TeraXPS. In cooperation with the U. C. Berkeley a CNN universal machine and super-computer has been developed.
In connection with CAD/CAM software development significant research effort has been directed to problems of geometric modelling: curve and surface interpolation, solid modelling, NC manufacturing based on geometric models, visualization, modelling surfaces of general topology. The last research project is supported by the DEC External Research Program. The laboratory is also active in research on intelligent manufacturing and image and pattern analysis, especially in the problem of defect detection in textures.
Geometric Model of a BMW car body panel developed in SZTAKI's Geometric Modelling Laboratory
Visual and object oriented systems are a major line of research that includes object oriented languages, distributed object management, visual interaction techniques and visual databases. The research area of computer graphics, human-computer interaction and visual interface have been recently integrated into the laboratory. Research in data models and database technologies includes: design theory of relational databases, distributed database systems, hypertext and multimedia systems, and software testing. On the more theoretical side the following topics are considered: multiple valued logics, algebraic algorithms, especially factoring polynomials over finite fields, statistical methods and applications.
Mathematical Physics and Combinatorics
The prime interest of the group of mathematical physics is in the modelling of particular phenomena occurring in continuum mechanics. Researchers in graph theory and combinatorics are working on problems of on-line graph colouring algorithms, Ramsey theory, theoretical computer science and descriptional complexity.
Operation Research and Decision Systems
This laboratory has a long tradition in carrying out research on optimization on parallel computers, non-convex programming, stochastic programming, tensor optimization and very large scale linear programming. Operation research and decision system applications in electric power planning, long-range marginal cost analysis and tarification have been considered for more than two decades. Numerical methods in mathematical physics, especially for ordinary differential equations and statistical analysis of economic time series are also part of the research.
Systems and Control
A major direction of research and development has been real-time fault and change detection and isolation in noisy environment. Adaptive control methodologies using new processing methods, time delay estimation and the theory of stochastic complexity have been developed partly in cooperation with CWI and IBM Research, San Jose, CA. Among the more classical directions parametrization issues of multivariable linear systems, qualitative modelling and continuous-time systems are to be mentioned. Symbolic methods for solving ordinary and partial differential equations by using pure symbol manipulation techniques are also tackled.
The Development Division
The Development Division (AFE) is an association of autonomous departments dealing mainly with application oriented research and development. Development Departments are financially independent, self-supporting units covering their expenses largely through development contracts. The AFE Division consists of the following departments: Information Technology, Laser & Computer Techniques, Operations Research, Power Electronics, Robotics and Computer Vision, Supervisory Control Systems.
The Academic Computer Infrastructure Division
The Academic Computer Infrastructure Division (ASZI) incorporates the Computer and Networking Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as well as several research and development departments active in centralized computer services, computer networks, network applications, data base management and electronic mail systems. The ASZI Division consists of the following departments: Computer Centre, Informatics Services, Networks, Hardware.
The main objective of the Division is to provide computer-based infrastructural services for the Hungarian academic community at the state of the art level. This means network technology and services which includes informing and training users, releasing relevant technical information, giving consultancy, setting up and studying pilot systems, co-ordinating national and international networking activities (e.g. Internet), operating national network nodes and gateways, maintaining databases, running electronic mail and bulletin board systems, operating file servers. The ASZI unit runs the central computing facility of the Academy which is an IBM 9121 installed at the end of 1993.