ERCIM News No.45 - April 2001 [contents]

SOFSEM 2000 Conference Report

by Václav Hlavác and Gabriela Andrejková

The SOFSEM (SOFtware SEMinar) is an annual international computer science and computer engineering conference of generalistic and multidisciplinary nature. SOFSEM roots are in the former Czechoslovakia. SOFSEM 2000, the 27th in a row, was held in Milovy, Czech Republic from 25 November to 2 December 2000. SOFSEM 2000 received support from ERCIM and several other institutions from the IT industry.

SOFSEM traditionally builds on invited talks and the 2000 conference saw 15 invited speakers. The programme was divided into three main streams: Trends in algorithmics, Information technologies in Practice, and Computational Perception. The programme was, as usual, accompanied by 18 submitted refereed papers (called contributed talks at SOFSEM). Of the 159 attendees 49 were foreign participants, many of these from ERCIM institutes.

The programme committee chair Václav Hlavác, co-chairs Jirí Wiedermann, Keith Jeffery, as well as the organising committee chair Jan Staudek were approved by the SOFSEM Steering Committee for SOFSEM 2000. Serving as a meeting ground for professionals from both the theory and the practice of computing has always been an important ingredient of the SOFSEM mission. The busy time schedule of SOFSEM 2000, in which invited and contributed talks were supplemented by commercial presentations by sponsors and a cultural programme. The concentration of all events in a single hotel complex allowed a longer conference duration and left time for lively discussions, which often focused on sketching research projects with newly discovered partners. There were many students and young researchers among the participants. For the sixth time, the SOFSEM 2001 proceedings were published by the Springer-Verlag in the Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) Series (Volume 1963) and contain papers from the invited and contributed talks.

SOFSEM moves forward, of course. The new chair of the Steering Committee was elected on SOFSEM 2000, which is Branislav Rovan from the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. The previous Steering Committee chair Jií Wiedermann from the Institute of Computer Science, Prague, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, was given a big thanks for his five-years job. SOFSEM 2001 will be held in the Piestany spa town in Slovakia. The new PC chair is Peter Ruzicka from the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Workshop on Softcomputing
This year, a very successful two-days workshop on Softcomputing was joined to SOFSEM. The workshop was held in November 27-28, 2000.

The area of Soft Computing can be characterised using words of Prof. L. Zadeh (see also his homepage at who describes the field of Soft Computing as follows: “Soft computing is an association of computing methodologies centering on fuzzy logic (FL), neurocomputing (NC), genetic computing (GC), and probabilistic computing (PC). The methodologies comprising soft computing are for the most part complementary and synergetic rather than competitive.

The guiding principle of soft computing is: exploit the tolerance for imprecision, uncertainty, partial truth, and approximation to achieve tractability, robustness, low solution cost and better rapport with reality. One of the principal aims of soft computing is to provide a foundation for the conception, design and application of intelligent systems employing its member methodologies symbiotically rather than in isolation”.

The organizer and chairman of the workshop was Petr Hájek from the Institute of Computer Science of the Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic. The institute is one of the research centres having rather good credentials for research in SC: these follow from the experience given by their long term investigation in neural networks, fuzzy logic as well as in probabilistic computing. The program committee decided to invite Prof. Kruse for a plenary invited lecture of SOFSEM with the title ‘Information mining with fuzzy methods’.

The domain of SC was understood rather broadly and openly - from strictly mathematical foundations to practical applications. The following contributions were accepted and published in the Special Issue on SOFSEM 2000 - Neural Network World, Vol. 10, No. 5, 2000 (International Journal on Neural and Mass-Parallel Computing and Information Systems).

Petr Hájek characterised the workshop as follows: “The presented works appears to be a reasonable selection of views, approaches, methods and results which, on the one hand, are interesting contributions to the field of SC, and on the other hand, invite to stronger cooperation and cross-fertilization - a necessary condition for the pursuit of the main idea of SC. Needless to say, many problems are still unsolved and some research tasks are only sketched. The future will show how far reaching and deep the idea of soft computing is. Contributing to this understanding is certainly an exciting programme.”

The participants of the workshop proposed the creation of an ERCIM Working Group on Soft Computing.

SOFSEM 2000:

Please contact:
Václav Hlavác - CTU
Tel: +420 2 2435 7465