SIGART FY'04 Annual Report

July 2003 - June 2004
Submitted by: Maria Gini, SIGART Chair

The scope of SIGART consists of the study of intelligence and its realization in computer systems. Many important areas of computer science fall within SIGART's ambit, such as: autonomous agents, intelligent user interfaces, knowledge discovery and data mining, human-language technology, cognitive modeling, qualitative reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, scheduling, logic programming, problem solving, search, connectionist models, machine learning, robotics, and computer vision.

During 2003 and 2004 SIGART:

1. Co-sponsored 5 conference meetings (AAMAS, K-CAP, ISWC, IUI, and ASE) and cooperated with 5 more (CIA, IEA/AIE, ESAW, WASP, and AH). AAMAS, held in Melbourne, Australia, was the largest conference, with a truly international attendance of 475 people (of which 126 from the US).

2. Co-sponsored the eight SIGART/AAAI/IJCAI Doctoral Consortium, which was held in Acapulco, Mexico, in conjunction with the IJCAI conference. The doctoral consortium provided an opportunity for 15 Ph.D. students to discuss and explore their research interests and career objectives with a panel of established AI researchers. The AAMAS conference also provided a doctoral mentoring program for student authors of papers or posters at the AAMAS conference. The program at AAMAS was supported with funding from SIGART and the other conference co-sponsors. In addition, SIGART provided scholarships for students to attend other SIGART sponsored conferences.

3. Co-sponsored the SIGART Autonomous Agents Research Award. The award was presented at the AAMAS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. This award recognizes researchers in autonomous agents whose current and recent work is particularly influential. The 2003 winner was Prof. Nick Jennings, from the University of Southampton, UK, for his work on negotiation technologies.

SIGART is currently a "conferences-only" SIG. Under the operating rules, SIGART is run by an Executive Board, comprising a Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Communications Officer. The Executive Board is responsible for the day-to-day running of the SIG, informed by the recommendations of an Advisory Board and subject to the by-laws of the ACM. The SIGART Advisory Board comprises representatives from the major conferences that SIGART sponsors currently: AAMAS, K-CAP, IAT/WI, IUI, ASE, and the SIGART/AAAI Doctoral Consortium. SIGART will revert to a regular SIG. As part of this process, the SIGART Executive Board is revising the bylaws, discussing new operational rules, and preparing a set of candidates for the next elections.

These are challenges for the near future:

  • Providing improved support to SIGART-sponsored conferences: It is very important that SIGART provides support commensurate to the fees and surpluses contributed by the sponsored conferences. One important step that was taken two years ago was to formally adopt a rule that 80% of a conference surplus funds be spent to benefit that conference, in forms of scholarships for students to attend the conference or other related special projects. We are considering how to improve financial transparency to the sponsored conferences.

  • Expanding the AI content in the ACM Digital Library: The SIGART in-cooperation conferences do not make their conference proceedings available to the ACM Digital Library. Most of them have long standing agreements with publishers that prevent them from placing their material in the ACM DL. We are thinking of what additional incentives could be provided to convince the conference organizers to make their contents available to the DL. We are also continuing to work to increase the number and variety of sponsored/in-cooperation conferences.

  • Improving the benefits of SIGART membership: Currently the main benefits of SIGART membership are reduced registration at all SIGART-supported and in-cooperation conferences, copies of the proceedings from the main SIGART-sponsored conferences, and access to the SIGART generated material in the Digital Library. We are thinking about additional benefits (such as a web site more rich in content, a newsletter, etc) that we could provide, in particular in light of the upcoming transition to a regular SIG.

ACM Case Studies

Written by leading domain experts for software engineers, ACM Case Studies provide an in-depth look at how software teams overcome specific challenges by implementing new technologies, adopting new practices, or a combination of both. Often through first-hand accounts, these pieces explore what the challenges were, the tools and techniques that were used to combat them, and the solution that was achieved.

The DevOps Phenomenon

ACM Queue’s “Research for Practice” serves up expert-curated guides to the best of computing research, and relates these breakthroughs to the challenges that software engineers face every day. This installment, “The DevOps Phenomenon” by Anna Wiedemann, Nicole Forsgren, Manuel Wiesche, Heiko Gewald and Helmut Krcmar, gives an overview of stories from across the industry about software organizations overcoming early hurdles of adopting DevOps practices, and coming out on the other side with tighter integration between software and operations teams, faster delivery times for new software features, and achieving higher levels of stability.