Coodinator's Report

A Year of Global Initiatives

As befits the run-up to a new millennium, the past year has witnessed also in the arena of Computational Logic a spate of new global initiatives designed to secure a healthy future for our field. Three initiatives deserve special mention here. They are all independent, yet compatible; they tackle different but complementary sets of issues; and in each case Compulog Net has, in various ways, been involved in helping to support the initiative in the early stages. The first initiative, at least the first to be fully activated, covers the area of journal publishing. A new electronic journal, 'ACM Transactions on Computational Logic' (TOCL) http://www.acm.org/tocl/ has been launched this year, with a first issue due to appear in 2000. It aims to fill a gap by providing a forum for the rapid dissemination of articles on all uses of logic in computer science. Logic programming and constraint programming are two of the areas explicitly represented in the structure of the journal's editorial board; others include program development, model checking, term rewriting systems, common-sense reasoning, program specification, machine learning, automated deduction, verification, type theory, uncertainty. Although at present there are no formal connections between Compulog Net and the new journal, the network has been involved in early pre-launch discussions, welcomes the initiative, and will be seeking ways to interact and cooperate with TOCL in the future.

A second initiative, the CL2000 conference http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/cl2000/, aims to bring together a wider computational logic audience than is currently active in ICLP conferences, although there remains a strong logic programming orientation. The conference is divided into 7 streams, each with its own Chair and Programme Committee. Two of the streams represent existing conferences (DOOD and LOPSTR), while a third annual event, ILP, will collocate with the conference. The network was active from the start in supporting the CL2000 initiative, and several network nodes are involved in organising different streams. It is expected that the network will also be offering material support both to the conference and to some of its satellite events.

There are estimates that, taken in its entirety, the field of computational logic can count on up to as many ten thousand people active in R&D world-wide. Yet in recent years the field has tended to diversify and split-off into dozens of separate groups and sub-communities, with their own conferences, workshops and meetings. There has been until now no truly international, global entity or organisation to represent the computational logic community as a whole. The International Federation for Computational Logic, IFCoLog, http://www.ifcolog.org is being launched to fill this gap and to help bring together the diverse sub-areas and sub-communities within the field, as well as to provide an internationally recognised body to represent the discipline. Reminiscent of the ECCAI model, the members of IFCoLog will be neither individual persons nor nodes, but rather societies, associations and groups - local, national or international - representing different sub-areas of logic and computation, or different geographical regions.

The members will form a General Assembly that will elect a Board to manage the Federation. The Board will in turn elect a smaller Executive Council, responsible for the actual day-to-day running of the federation and for carrying out specific actions and tasks. Activities will include information dissemination through a web site and publications, helping to organise conferences and workshops, and holding a large joint international conference at regular intervals. Although much of its infrastructure is in place already, IFCoLog is expected to become a legal entity in the near future, probably in the form of an association under Dutch law. Compulog Net, which for obvious reasons cannot itself play the role of a global umbrella organisation for computational logic, has been a significant force in helping to bring about IFCoLog. Currently the network's role includes helping to promote the federation and, where possible, to share WWW resources and even databases (e.g. a comprehensive events calendar currently under construction http://www.ifcolog.org/Events/ ). In return the network will be represented on IFCoLog's Executive Council and should be able to ensure a primary role for the European CL community within the Federation.

Technological Roadmap

Elsewhere, a key activity of the network this year has been working towards the creation of a technological roadmap, the main 'deliverable' that NoEs have to present to the European Commission under the terms of their contracts. In the course of compiling its roadmap, the network has assembled a collection of various documents, notes and articles, many available online at http://www.compulog.org/net/Forum/Supportdocs.html The current shape of the roadmap consists of chapters devoted to constraint logic programming, inductive logic programming, logic-based agents and information integration, together with a supporting chapter on enabling technologies. A roadmap committee has been formed to oversee both preparation and editing of the roadmap, whose final version should be ready later this year for publication (hard copy) in the next issue of the newsletter.

Special Joint Planning Workshops and other Events

Two special workshop were organised this year with the aim of (i) furthering collaboration with other NoEs and (ii) providing additional material for the roadmap. The first event was a joint workshop with AgentLink, the new NoE for agent-based computing, organised by Imperial College, London. The second event, on computational logic in language and speech technology, was organised by the network's office in Saarbruecken as a continuation of our cooperation with Elsnet. Both workshops are described at greater length elsewhere in the newsletter.

The network has also been active in organising area meetings and co-organising and supporting various other workshops throughout the year. Full news can be found in the Area Reports elsewhere in this issue. In the arena of industrial relations and technology transfer, once again the network was actively involved in supporting the Practical Application conferences at PA Expo 99 in London. In addition two other events were co-organised that merit special mention here. Together with ALP UK the network held a one-day event during PA Expo devoted to Distributed Knowledge Management. Later in the year, during ILP99 in Slovenia, the network continued its successful cooperation with the J Stefan Institute, co-organising a special Industrial Day on computational logic and machine learning applications.

5FP

We are now well into the 5th Framework Programme where NoEs will continue to exist as accompanying measures. All forms of networks and working groups will now have a single type of contract under the rubric 'thematic networks'; but the contracts permit a similar range of activities as were allowed in the past. Compulog Net will be one of several NoEs aiming to continue under fresh 5FP contracts. Currently the network is hoping to be granted an extension under its present budget until July 2000 and to submit a proposal for a successor network some time over the next 2-3 months.

The network was also closely involved in a 5FP proposal for a new network designed to make use of the infrastructures developed by several existing NoEs (others were AgentLink, ERUDIT, Evonet and I3net) in order to support the new pro-active FET initiative UIE (Universal Information Ecosystems). The proposed UIEnet would have strengthened the ties between the participating NoEs and helped to integrate and promote projects within the UIE initiative. The UIEnet proposal was positively evaluated and recommended for acceptance, but unfortunately was not supported due to a lack of UIE projects: from only 15 proposal submitted, just 4 projects were finally approved.

David Pearce