Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of AAAI: Notes from the AAAI-05 and IAAI-05 Conferences

By Hedberg, Sara Reese | AI Magazine, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of AAAI: Notes from the AAAI-05 and IAAI-05 Conferences


Hedberg, Sara Reese, AI Magazine


Surveying the last quarter century of AI since the founding of AAAI in his Presidential Address, Ron Brachman outlined some of the highlights of the past 25 years. Of special note was Deep Blue, the IBM computer system that beat then--reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

Then there was the boom and bust of expert systems companies, the times when Al was the most popular computer science major, and the 1985 AAAI conference that had over 5,500 attendees.

This was followed by what is commonly referred to as the "AI Winter." "This was not a prolonged phenomenon," observed Brachman. indeed, in the current Presidential budget for fiscal year 2006, the Cognitive Computing Systems line item is $200 million, and the proposed 2007 budget is $240 million. Adding this figure together with the National Science Foundation and other national U.S. agency budgets, "the weather is getting warmer (for AI)," concluded Brachman.

"[In his Presidential Address], Ron Brachman focused on the problem of the centrifugal and centripetal tendencies of AI," says incoming AAAI President Alan Mackworth. "He emphasized that an exclusive focus on our increasingly specialized subdisciplines will not let us reach either our scientific or our technological goals. The way to overcome those centrifugal tendencies is to develop better theories of cognitive architectures and to work in integrated applications. He then pointed out," continued Mackworth, "that AAAI is perhaps the premier venue for bringing together the subdisciplines and is therefore needed more than ever. Those messages resonate strongly with me."

Bringing Back the Momentum of Grander Moments in AI.

Early in his talk, Brachman declared that he hoped to see An "bring back the level of energy and excitement felt in the grander moments" of its history. Judging by this year's AAAI-05 and Innovative Applications of AI (IAAI-05) conferences, this energy and excitement is already building. Attendance to the conference was up by twenty percent for 2005. A record 803 technical papers were submitted for consideration. Various strains of AI are viewed as critical to homeland security, antiterrorism and emergency response. Governments are allocating huge amounts of funding for AI research.

Leading companies such as Microsoft and Google are using AI in increasingly more intelligent software and Web services. As seen in this year's Intelligent Systems demonstrations, scientists are using AI to assist with cancer research and biomarker discovery. This year's award-winning innovative and emerging applications at the IAAI-05 conference show that AI-based applications can be found throughout the fabric of our modern world--underground, on the ground, in the ocean, and in space (see the sidebar "Snapshot of 2005 Innovative Applications of AI Papers").

There were many signs of the growing momentum in the AI field at this year's conferences. A look at the categories of the accepted papers (and the number of papers within each category) gives a brief glimpse of the breadth of research agendas currently underway: activity and plan recognition (5 papers); agents/multiagent systems (27 papers); analogical and case based reasoning (6 papers); auctions and market-based systems (5 papers); automated reasoning (12 papers); constraint satisfaction and satisfiability (20 papers); game theory and economic models (5 papers); human-computer interaction (6 papers); knowledge acquisition and engineering (2 papers); knowledge representation and reasoning (19 papers); logic programming (4 papers); machine learning (35 papers); machine perception (6 papers); Markov decision processes and uncertainty (12 papers); natural language processing and speech recognition (15 papers); planning and scheduling (17 papers); robotics (16 papers); search (10 papers); and semantic web, information retrieval, and extraction (7 papers).

The technical conference also included 16 tutorials, 14 workshops, 22 intelligent systems demonstrations, 26 student abstract papers, and reports from 15 specialized AI conferences (for example, constraint programming, intelligent user interfaces, data mining)--all of the above impressive for its quality far more than its quantity. …

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