1996 AACC Awards 1996 IFAC World Congress

IFAC held its 13th Triennial World Congress in San Francisco during June 30-July 5, 1996. More than 1990 engineers and scientists from 70 countries assembled for the event, breaking previous records of attendance as well as number of countries represented.

While IFAC organizes many conferences on various aspects of automatic control, it is the World Congress where people from the entire field get together and where progress in the full spectrum of subjects can be reviewed and shared. The goal for the National Organizing Committee (NOC) of this Congress was to build on the outstanding efforts of earlier NOCs and to continue the pattern of ever-increasing quality of papers and of Congress activities. Through the superlative work of the NOC, I believe we more than met this target. Kudos go to Jose Cruz, Chairman, International Program Committee; David Auslander, Conference Manager; Janos Gertler, Publications Manager; Timothy Johnson, Financial Manager, and to all of their associates. No general chairman could have had a better team with whom to work.

This year's Congress covered a broad range of topics with sessions arranged into nine congress symposia and subdivided into 46 technical areas. More than 2500 papers were submitted for consideration by authors representing 64 countries. The quality of the 1500 accepted papers provided significant contributions in each of the subject areas of the Congress. The exhibits hall featured displays and presentations by over 20 companies.

The papers were presented in 204 regular and invited lecture sessions and in 43 poster sessions. The latter were arranged in six clusters that contained almost 300 papers of high importance and quality. The poster sessions were an innovation in and one of the highlights of this Congress. The paper sessions were supplemented with 13 panel discussion sessions.

A "first" for IFAC '96 was the publication of the proceedings on compact disk. Each registrant received a copy in the registration packet. Additional copies will be available through the IFAC publisher, Elsevier Science, Ltd.

Among the highlights of IFAC '96's gala Opening Ceremony was the presentation of awards by IFAC President Stephen Kahne: The Nichols Medal was presented to Professor Jurgen Ackermann of DLR (the German Aerospace Research Establishment), for robust control design methods and their use to improve automobile safety. The Quazza Medal went to Professor Alberto Isidori of the University of Rome, for pioneering and fundamental contributions to the theory of non-linear feedback control.

Six speakers addressed the IFAC '96 attendees in general and plenary sessions. Keynoter Dr. John B. Slaughter, President, Occidental College gave a thoughtful challenge to the control systems community to bring its superlative scientific and technological skills to bear on the problems and dilemmas that face our society. Dr. Lotfi Zadeh presented some issues, contentions and perspectives of fuzzy control. Professor Brian Anderson discussed some fundamental issues of identification, adaptive and nonlinear control. Professor Karl Astrom bridged theory and practice in his talk on tuning and adaptation. Hichiro Ido focused on current issues of plant management and control. William Stevens discussed the automated highway systems of the USA.

Featured entertainment for attendees and guests was based on the theme of a Celebration of American Music, with performances given by San Francisco area musicians at the opening and closing ceremonies and daily at noon in the foyer of the Yerba Buena ballroom.

In sum, through the outstanding efforts of the NOC and the professionalism of the presenters, I believe that IFAC '96 will go down as one of the most intellectually rewarding and enjoyable World Congresses ever held. My sincere appreciation to all who made it so, and best wishes to Beijing in l999.

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