Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
The Thirteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-96) was held August 4–8, 1996, at the convention center in Portland, Oregon.
Each year, the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence provides a unique opportunity for timely interaction and communication among researchers and practitioners from all areas of AI. This year the program committee continued the policy established two years ago to broaden participation at the conference. Once again, the community has responded enthusiastically, submitting over 640 papers. Three reviewers reviewed each paper under the supervision of one of twenty-eight senior members of the AI community who supervised broad areas of research. The evaluation criteria recognized a wide range of scientific contributions. Reviewers and senior program committee members were asked to view themselves not as “gatekeepers” looking for reasons to reject papers but rather as “scouts” looking for interesting papers to accept. Of the 643 papers originally submitted, five were withdrawn by their authors, 441 were rejected, and 197 were accepted.
Keeping one’s eye on the “AI prize” requires weaving together a broad set of computational disciplines. To this end, we invited you to set aside your research for a weekend and plunge into a unique educational adventure. The Tutorial Forum provided an opportunity for researchers to spend two days each year freely exploring exciting advances in disciplines outside their normal focus. We believe this type of forum is essential for the cross-fertilization, cohesiveness, and vitality of the AI field. We all have a lot to learn from each other; the Tutorial Forum promoted the continuing education of each member of the AAAI.
The Tutorial Forum structure differed from past tutorial programs in three important ways: first, we took down the boundaries between tutorials, with admission allowing participation in up to four (4) consecutive tutorials during the two days. Second, simple arithmetic will show that the per tutorial cost is significantly reduced. Finally, we invited a wide variety of high-quality, advanced tutorials taught by leading members of the field on hot topics within and outside of AI. Your active participation was essential to making this educational forum a growing success!
AAAI-96 also had several other exciting programs. The popular Student Abstract and Poster Program provided an ideal opportunity for students to present and discuss their work during its early stages, meet some of their peers who have related interests, and introduce themselves to more senior members of the field. The program was open to all pre-PhD students and has, in the past, drawn over 100 submissions. It presented a wonderful opportunity for all of us to get acquainted with some of the up-and-coming talent and their new research ideas. In addition, the Student Abstract and Poster Program was run in cooperation with the SIGART/AAAI Doctoral Consortium program. This was a small, focused gathering that allowed selected students to present their work to a faculty panel. All Abstract and Poster Program participants were also invited to attend the panel discussions.
Recognizing that invited speakers provide a special opportunity to bring people into our community and highlight important new directions, we brought a few speakers to the meeting who were engaged in AI-related work, but hadn’t published before at our meeting. Each of these speakers brought a provocative, fresh perspective to computational aspects of cognition.
In sum, the AI community continued the goal of revitalizing the AAAI conference, enhancing its atmosphere of excitement, innovation, controversy, and intellectual engagement. The community and conference committee made great strides toward achieving that goal. The remaining essential element? You!
Dan Weld and Bill Clancey