ERCIM News No.29 - April 1997

SOFSEM'96 Conference Report

by Keith Jeffery

SOFSEM is special. This SOFSEM Conference, the 23rd in the series, was pivotal in the evolution of the conference. From the basis of a winter school with invited (local) speakers it has evolved to its '96 state, an international conference with international invited speakers and international refereed submitted papers (known as contributed talks). It was at an earlier SOFSEM that the idea of CRCIM (Czech Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics) joining ERCIM was first proposed. SOFSEM'96 was the first SOFSEM since CRCIM joined ERCIM.

For '96 the programme committee (PC) chair and organising committee (OC) chair were elected by the Endowment Board and then given responsibility and authority. The grouping of invited talks into themes was strengthened by grouping the themes into certain days of the conference and ensuring session chairs were experienced in the subject of the theme. The themes this year were Fundamentals, Distributed and Parallel Computing, AI and Control Systems, Databases and Electronic Documents, Scientific Computing and Visualization, Programming and Software Engineering. These themes were reinforced in the contributed talks.

The new PC of 33 people, approximately half of whom were local (Czech / Slovak) and half from 10 other countries worked well. Many of the non-local PC members are from ERCIM institutes or in ERCIM Research Groups. The submitted papers came from 16 countries and the quality of those chosen (approximately 1 in 3) was very good. The refereeing was done using WWW forms and a spreadsheet / database system at Masaryk University -Institute of Computer Science which provided the information for final decision-making at the PC meeting.

The attendance was 179 persons from 16 countries and while the majority were Czech (126) nonetheless there were 17 from Slovakia, 7 from Germany, 6 from Netherlands, 5 from Italy, 4 from UK and small numbers from the other countries. ERCIM institutes were well-represented. Commercial presentations and a lively social programme complemented the main sessions. The proceedings were published by Springer-Verlag in the Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) Series (1175) and contain papers from 20 invited talks and 22 contributed talks.

As a member of the Advisory Board, a member of the Endowment Board and as Programme Committee Chair for SOFSEM'96, I am delighted to have been permitted (as an outsider) to be associated with the evolution of SOFSEM over some years. The whole team for '96 worked extremely well to produce yet another successful SOFSEM. As PC chair I owe special thanks to my colleague Jan Staudek (OC chair for '96) and to the Endowment Board members for their advice and work on obtaining invited speakers.

SOFSEM'97 will be held at the same location and the new PC Chair is Frantisek Plasil from Charles University, Prague. Jan Staudek will again be the OC chair. The history of SOFSEM can be found ­ together with all current information on the conference ­ under the general SOFSEM WWW page:

Please contact:
Keith G Jeffery - CLRC
Tel: +44 1235 446103

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