14th IFAC World Congress 14th IFAC World Congress

As the last triennial International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) World Congress of this century, the 14th IFAC World Congress was held July 5-9 at the Beijing International Convention Center in Beijing, P. R. China. It was an excellent conference in terms of both technical content and organization, and the Chinese Association of Automation should be commended for a job well done. The number of attendees and accompanying persons exceeded 1,800 and about 1,500 papers were presented. Papers were clustered into 9 Congress Tracks following the Technical Committee clusters: Manufacturing and Instrumentation, Design Methods, Systems and Signals, Life Support Systems, Systems Engineering and Management, Global and Educational Issues of Automation, Industrial Applications, Transportation and Vehicles, and Computer Control. The numbers of papers in the nine clusters differed significantly. Papers were arranged in 17 parallel sessions, with about 20% of the papers presented in 3 poster sessions that were well attended.

The Congress Banquet was held at the State Banquet Hall, the Great Hall of the People, at the Tiananmen Square, which was about 10 km from the Congress site. Since the traffic in Beijing is generally congested in the evening, congress participants wondered how a couple thousand people could be transported smoothly during the rush hour. However, the traffic was not a problem at all because the organizing committee made special arrangements to block all traffic while a motorcade of approximately 40 buses carrying the congress participants was lead nonstop by a police car to the State Banquet Hall.

I would like to thank the National Science Foundation for providing a block travel grant to the AACC, which assisted US academic researchers to attend the Congress in Beijing. The United States showed a strong presence in many ways. In terms of the number of accepted papers, the United States (168) had the second highest following China (310). Three of the five plenary speakers were from the United States (Yu-Chi Ho, Bill Powers, and Petar Kokotovic). The United States also recorded the highest no-show rate of 16.8%, while the overall no-show rate was about 11% among all countries. I was surprised and embarrassed to learn of this last statistic.

For further information on the 14th IFAC Congress, check the homepage of the AACC.

Finally, it is not too early to mark your calendars for the next IFAC World Congress which will be held July 21-26, 2002 in Barcelona, Spain.

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