This year the ACP will again hold elections for Executive Committee members. The election is held between August 8th and September 1st, 2016. You need to be a member of the ACP by Sunday, August 7th, 2016 to be eligible to vote.
If you were an ACP member on August 7th, 2016, you will receive an email with instructions on how to vote. If you have not received those instructions by August 10th, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following candidates are nominated for election to the ACP Executive Committee in 2016 (in alphabetical order):
- Carlos Ansotegui
- Maria Garcia De La Banda
- Michele Lombardi
- Claude-Guy Quimper
- Charlotte Truchet
I am an associate professor at the University of Lleida (Spain). My research interests include: modeling and solving decision and optimization problems, through the application of CP techniques. I have coauthored several papers on efficient solving techniques for real-world problems. I have served on many program committees at CP, AAAI, IJCAI and other conferences, have reviewed for several journals on CP topics and have been local chair of CPAIOR’15 and program chair of the workshop MODREF’14.
My main motivation is to bring our technology to other research areas and industrial domains. The essence of this interest can be distilled from the following words in the Handbook of Constraint Programming: "Constraint programming has proven useful -indeed, it is often the method of choice in important applications from industry, business, manufacturing, and science... As well, in the best traditions of application driven research, the chapters describe how focusing on real-world applications has led to basic discoveries and improvements to existing constraint programming techniques. In a fruitful cycle, these discoveries and improvements then led to new and more successful applications."
The advances for the next decade in algorithms and hardware will let us solve efficiently many problems that are currently out of reach. Therefore, we can expect our technology to become a key tool in many processes. The need for this technology is explicit in many research calls, for example, “Efficiency” appears as one of the keywords in several areas of the H2020 European Program, in reference to efficient energy distribution, logistics applications, etc. Undoubtedly, any advance in optimization algorithms has an impact on the efficiency of many industrial processes, business, manufacturing, and science.
The currently elected members of the ACP Executive Committee have worked very hard for the visibility of CP but, of course, this is an endless task. In this sense, I advocate the following measures:
- Promote synergies with other research areas and the industrial field. This can be implemented by supporting invited talks from these domains to explain their problems and then present a selection as challenges for our community. Finally, work with conferences and journals to create special tracks on these challenges.
- Increase our support to international competitions. These events have become in our community a catalyst of research. Work with the organizing teams to enforce the creation of standard interfaces and repositories to promote the access to CP tools and benchmarks. Establish the conditions to reach a higher level of software maturity.
- Promote the participation of our members in international projects. In this sense, we can offer technical sessions on the existent international calls, success stories of our members, lessons learnt, etc.
- Promote our publication culture. ACP members have worked very hard in the last years to have “fast track journals” at conferences which is a very valuable initiative. Among other reasons, journal publication can be preferred because of the existence of well-established procedures for computing impact factors and rankings. We can study to work with other communities in Computer Science to promote the usage of similar impact factors for conferences. Currently, Google Scholar or Semantic Scholar can be used in this sense to compute impact factors and rankings for conferences.
I have been part of the CP community since 1991 when I attended the first Workshop on Constraint Logic Programming in Marseille. During this time I have mainly focused on the development of technology that can help us understand and improve CP modelling and solving, from the automatic inference of program properties like symmetries and global constraints, to the debugging and profiling of constraint programs and the development of the Zinc modelling language (from which MiniZinc was originally derived as a subset).
And yet, I believe the two main contributions I can bring to the EC come from the knowledge and experiences I acquired through the roles I performed during the last 7 years and outside the CP community. During this time I have been Head of the Caulfield School of Information Technology (3 years) and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology (3 and ½ years) at Monash University, with responsibility over more than 150 staff, 3,000 students, a budget of over AUS$70M and activities in 6 different campuses located in Australia, Malaysia, China, South Africa and Italy.
In these roles I have led innumerable conversations with industry and government in a very wide range of areas regarding both their research and education needs in the area of Information Technology (IT). These conversations have resulted in many different collaborations, sometimes big, sometimes small, but always multi-disciplinary, both across the many IT areas present within our Faculty and across research areas in many other Faculties (from Arts to Business or Medicine). As a result, I have first-hand knowledge of the state of the art of IT in industry, of IT’s critical role in multi-disciplinary projects, and of industry’s current and immediate future IT needs. In addition, I have developed and/or participated in several innovative schemes to connect academia with industry both in research and in education. This has given me a very broad picture of how different research areas contribute to innovation and impact, and of the politics of research in general. I believe all this knowledge can be used by the EC to develop a plan to make CP research technology and education more readily available and better connect with industry. I don’t pretend to have a silver bullet, but I have plenty of ideas (from funding PhD internships in industry to organising targeted industry modelling days) that can be discussed and evaluated.
My second contribution is based on some of the skills that helped me perform both roles very successfully: my hard work, enthusiasm, organisational and communication skills, and leadership, which earned me the respect (and in many cases the friendship) of my colleagues both academic and professional. I would bring the same skills and passion to whatever activity the EC would like me to contribute to. While I don’t have any particular ideas regarding new directions these activities could take, I am sure there are already many good ideas bubbling in the community. I am a very good listener and I am more than happy to listen to those ideas, discuss them and bring them to the EC for further consideration.
I regard the diversity of positions in our community as a richness, and therefore I offer this statement as a personal contribution: an attempt to highlight a few goals that are important in my opinion and that I wish to help realizing.
I think CP has an unparalleled potential to address complex real world problems (like optimizing city traffic, large-scale management of renewable power sources...) that may become key to deliver societal benefits in the near future. These problems are usually considered out of reach for optimization techniques, because they couple combinatorial and numeric constraints, and they are defined over complex systems that can be modeled only via multi-agent simulators or via approximate Machine Learning methods.
Constraint Programming is very well suited to tackle such a class of complex problems, thanks to its ability to integrate heterogeneous techniques, to provide high quality solutions quickly and reliably, and to exploit constraints via propagation. Thanks to these capabilities, we have a chance (for example) to take advantage of the multitude of predictive models being developed in the ML domain, and use them for decision making in a real world setting. More in general, we have a chance to apply CP to a new class of applications of high practical relevance.
I would be glad to be part of such an endeavor, and I can identify some activities that are necessary to move in that direction. First, we should reach out to the AI and OR communities, show them that more complex problems can be tackled, and cooperate on new techniques to solve them. Second, we should increase the awareness that real-world problems of this complexity can be solved (e.g. by encouraging partnerships between companies and research labs, collecting success stories, giving -- fair -- visibility to spin-offs and companies using CP). Third, we should take care that our students, besides developing a strong technical expertise, get some degree of exposures to potential CP applications.
The EC has been working in some of these directions in the past: I think these efforts should continue and be renovated, and I will contribute to the best of my possibilities.
I am an associate professor at Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada) and a member of the ACP since 2003. I have served as program chair of CPAIOR 2016 and conference co-chair of CP 2012. I run for this election to support the constraint programming community. Among all challenges that we face, I chose two that I would like to address: the recruiting of graduate students in constraint programming and the visibility of constraint programming within other research communities.
The future of our community lies in its ability in recruiting new members. The ACP has done a fantastic job at organizing summer schools and promoting CP to graduate students. The ACP should continue to help its members to improve how CP is taught at the undergrad and graduate levels. This could be done by facilitating the voluntary exchange of course outlines, slides, assignments, and tips on which solvers to use in an educational context. Students who accomplish innovative research projects in their courses should be encouraged to present their work in our workshops.
The ACP made tremendous efforts to represent the CP community in North American events such as those organized by INFORMS and CORS. Thanks to these efforts, constraint programming is better perceived in the operations research community but more work needs to be done. This is why I volunteer to take over the mission of ensuring that CP sessions are organized in operations research conferences and ensuring that our successes are known to the potential users of our technology.
Since 2005, I have been an assistant professor at the University of Nantes in France. My research activities mainly focus on new domains representation for CP, using tools from Abstract Interpretation, and probabilistic analysis of CP components. I have been involved in AFPC, the French equivalent of the ACP, at different levels for 9 years: member of the Executive Committee, secretary, chair of the French conference (JFPC) in 2013, organizer of the JFPC in 2008. I would like to serve in the ACP Executive Committee on the basis of the following statements:
1) we all believe that CP is a powerful technology. We can even support this claim with good points: CP is efficient on many highly combinatorial problems, it is flexible, it is generic. The question is: who else, in computer science and beyond, thinks the same? With the advent of SMT solvers, the word « constraint » now means SMT in most of the scientific communities outside CP. I think that we, collectively, do not put enough efforts into widening the use of CP techniques, possibly because our main scientific focusses are too narrow: constraint programming has become very efficient, but also more and more dedicated to a quite small range of problems. The existing collaborations between CP and OR are a fruitful approach. The opening of the CP conference this year, with special tracks to promote new areas, is also a good way. However there is still a lot to do before having off-the-shelf solvers applied to real-life problems by non-expert users. We need to promote solvers and systems, both on their efficiency and also on other criteria, to improve the solvers and modeling tools by collaborating with other disciplines (parallelism, machine learning, software engineering, HMI…), to provide user-friendly systems, to develop really new application areas even though the new problems are not proven NP-hard, to strengthen CP modeling capabilities, for instance with a Modeling Challenge. If I am elected, I will encourage or develop any initiative in this direction.
2) at the University of Nantes, I have been Equal Opportunity officer for three years. I think that gender equality is a huge concern in computer science. Basing our recruitment on only half of the population is a strong limitation. Besides, it also damages computer science image, at a time when it is more and more socially questioned. This might be seen as a minor concern for a scientific community, with the common (and partly true) remarks: « it is too late, everything happens before, there is not much we can do ». And, as a personal comment, I would say that Constraint Programming is not the worst area on this matter. Yet, encouraging a fair representation of every type of human being is important at every level of the scientific careers, and the existence of positive figures is a key ingredient for promoting equality. Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks to reach equality. Our community is far too small, and possibly not ready, for strict equal opportunity measures. I think the most efficient way, at the ACP level, is to pursue the effort for having balanced committees, rely on the annual conference to exchange good practices, and apply the existing policies from bigger computer science associations (e.g. ACM, Informatics Europe, etc). If I am elected, I will pursue the efforts of the previous committees in this direction.