This year the ACP will again hold elections for Executive Committee members. The election is held between August 1st and September 1st, 2014. You need to be a member of the ACP by Thursday, July 31st, 2014 to be eligible to vote.
If you were an ACP member on July 31st, 2014, you should have received an email with instructions on how to vote. If you have not received those instructions, please contact email@example.com.
The following candidates are nominated for election to the ACP Executive Committee in 2014 (in alphabetical order):
- Berthe Choueiry (election statement)
- Alan Frisch (election statement)
- Christophe Lecoutre (election statement)
- Laurent Michel (election statement)
- Nina Narodytska (election statement)
- Steve Prestwich (election statement)
The pioneers and leaders of the Constraint Programming (CP) community have succeeded at turning, in a relatively short time, an intellectually thrilling paradigm into an active scientific field and a thriving research community. CP now has its own conference with a doctoral program, journal, newsletter, and summer school, to name but a few of the activities that we now enjoy and expect on a regular basis. I am deeply grateful to those who have envisioned such developments and worked tirelessly at implementing them. I believe that the role of the Executive Committee of the ACP is to support the individuals who put their creative energy at the service of the community, design strategies for countering the challenges facing the development of the field, and foster and support the next generation of leaders. The above objectives have enabled the successful development of the field. If elected, I intend to seek new strategies for upholding them. While the community input currently being collected by the Strategic Planning Committee will likely determine to a large extent the priorities of the Executive Committee, I list below some challenges the Executive Committee may want to consider:
- Undergraduate Computer Science curriculum. Encourage the development of small, ready-to-use, CP modules for direct integration in the undergraduate curriculum in courses on Discrete Structures (inference) and Algorithms (search). To this end, coordinate with the committees the ACM and IEEE Computer Society on undergraduate curriculum development.
- Graduate education and training. Facilitate exchange programs and summer internships for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students by providing partial financial support and guidelines for mentoring activities.
- Preparing future faculty. Training future leaders via postdoctoral fellowships and visitor programs.
- Fund raising to support education-related activities via partnering with larger professional associations such as AAAI, ECCAI, ACM SIGAI, and IEEE Computer Society.
- Increasing interactions with related fields (e.g., SAT, verification, and theoretical computer science) via conference collocation, and joint tutorials and invited speakers.
- Improving support of less formal activities, such as archiving the working notes of workshops, and actively supporting and diversifying solver competitions.
On a more personal note, I am concerned about the relative underrepresentation of North America in the activities of the ACP in recent years. I hope that the Executive Committee can learn from the successes of the European and Australian CP communities to help re-boosting the status and visibility of the community in North America.
I would be proud to contribute to the CP community of which I have been a long-time member, having attended eleven CP conferences.
Since its formation in 2005, the ACP has brought greater transparency and continuity to the organisation of the CP conference and has expanded its activities to include summer schools, a doctoral symposium, awards, a newsletter and website, and financial support for both other conferences and student travel. This is an excellent record of service to the CP community and as a member of the Executive Committee I would work to ensure the continued success of these activities.
I would also work for improvements and new initiatives, two of which I highlight.
- I would campaign to broaden the appeal and influence of the CP
conference by taking greater advantage of collocations with other conferences and workshops. I have record of succeeding at this: I ran the 2000 Int. Conf. on Inductive Logic Programming in collocation with the Int. Conf. on Computational Logic and I ran the 2013 Symposium on Abstraction, Reformulation and Approximation in collocation with the Symposium on Combinatorial Search.
- The growth and continued success of the field of CP depend on
education, both training new researchers and practitioners as well
as those already working in other fields. I would champion initiatives
to improve the teaching of constraint programming internationally.
Resources for teaching and learning could be catalogued
and disseminated and best practices could be shared, all
facilitated by a website and a workshop. My experience in teaching includes delivering a constraint programming course at the University of York for 14 years and reaching outside the field by teaching a masterclass on constraint modelling to non-CP researchers at the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics.
To the ACP Executive Committee I would bring extensive organisational experience. My involvement with the CP conference has included serving five times on the programme committee, including once on the senior programme committee, and once as joint Tutorial and Workshop Chair. I founded the Workshop on Constraint Modelling and Reformulation in 2002, have ensured that it has run at every CP conference since, and chaired it three times.
I also have vast experience across the spectrum of AI. I was twice elected vice-chair of ACM SIGART at a time when the organisation had approximately 10,000 members. I founded the UK's Automated Reasoning Workshop series in 1994 and chaired its Organising Committee for 11 years. In addition to serving as joint chair of ILP'2000 and SARA'2013, I have run many workshops and jointly chaired ERCIM's Annual ERCIM Workshop on Constraint Solving and Constraint Logic Programming
Constraint Programming is an exciting domain that deserves a stronger impact on industry, and on scientific community in general. Promoting CP looks like a challenge. Fortunately, the community is aware of the need of a strategic plan for the years to come: see the "ACP sub-committee for strategic planning". In my opinion, here are some direct ways (this is of course a non exhaustive list) for promoting CP:
- popularizing CP by publishing more surveys and books, especially targeting a general scientific audience ;
- making clearly visible (for example, through the ACP website) the successful industrial applications of CP technology ;
- developing a simple and natural (flat) format, to be used as a standard, for representing problem instances of the major frameworks introduced in CP ;
- collecting/posting problems, models, and instances on modern website(s) with the possibility for the visitor of making sophisticated queries.
The ACP must keep working on its main successful tasks (support of conferences CP and CPAIOR, organization of summer schools, doctoral programmes, newsletters, ...), but it must also support efforts and initiatives made for promoting CP. During the next few years, I will be involved (with colleagues at CRIL and some other labs) in several actions concerning items 3 and 4 cited above. We have already started a new development process in that direction. I will be happy to make such developments in close relationship with the ACP.
General information concerning my career and related to my application:
- co-leader of the research axis "Algorithms for inference and constraints" at CRIL (Centre de Recherche en Informatique de Lens)
- main developer of the constraint solver AbsCon
- deeply involved in the development of the format XCSP 2.1 and in the collecting process of many benchmarks in that format
- deeply involved in the organization of several solver competitions, that were held with the conference CP
Constraint Programming has made huge strides forward since its inception and is accumulating success stories in industrial application domains. Yet, it currently finds itself competing with many other technologies that feature simpler modeling and perceived ease-of-use via pure model and run. While CP continues to outshine its rivals whenever rich modeling and sophisticated search are paramount, it suffers from a lack of exposure and weak growth.
I believe that the CP field and its community would benefit from enlarging its horizon by looking for and embracing novel application domains where its focus on expressing and exploiting structures can play to its advantage. New technical contributions are often driven by real-world applications that push the limits of existing technologies and can deliver "poster child" applications for CP. Power systems, smart energy networks, renewable energy management, platform-based design, cryptography, software verification, software configuration, as well as Data Mining and Big Data all spring to mind as they feature diverse realms that we ought to explore. CP-branded solutions to large scale combinatorial or mixed optimization problems are bound to positively impact our community on multiple levels such as visibility, fundability, ability to attract young researchers, and ultimately leave a lasting legacy. It is time to raise our sight and shift our focus, at least partly, from narrowly focused contributions to grand challenges to increase our relevance and re-assert CP's place as a major and versatile optimization platform.
My intent is to encourage initiatives lined up with these objectives, both personally, but also through ACP supported initiatives for emerging efforts in those critical areas (e.g., those mentioned above). A successful strategy for our community is to support a diverse portfolio to suit individual preferences and interests along with a receptive community willing to engage in new ventures. Communicating the benefits, encouraging workshops, stirring interest for summer schools in emerging domains, edging reviewers and editors to be tolerant of work "on the fringe" of CP are all critical and part of the responsibility of a steering body. That is the objective I would pursue on the ACP.
I have been working in Constraint Programming since 2006 when I started my PhD, focusing on global constraints and symmetry breaking. Recently, I have been working on SAT-based techniques, including building new solvers for maximum satisfiability and for reachability games.
I was named one of "AI's 10 to Watch" young researches in the field of AI. I also received an Outstanding Paper Award at AAAI 2011 and an outstanding program committee member award at the Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2012. I have organised and (co-)chaired four workshops, including doctoral program workshop at CP'13. I served on program committees of major AI conferences since 2011.
As a member of the community, I hope to contribute to further success of ACP. If elected, I will champion stronger connections with related research communities, in particular SAT and ICAPS, and will be proactive in achieving this goal. Possible steps in this direction include conducting collocated conferences or organise CP workshops at these conferences. Collocating CP events with events in other communities will help inject CP with new ideas and promote CP ideas to other areas. It is also a source of new theoretical and practical challenges for CP. I also believe that CP research is under-represented at major AI conferences, like AAAI/IJCAI, compared to other AI areas and we can be more active in promoting our research in the broad AI community. I also think we should attract and involve students to the field and make sure that CP welcomes all people interested in the field. CP community already puts a lot of effort into this, including organising doctoral program and ACP summer schools. I will be very happy to continue this trend and improve these very important activities. Finally, if elected, I will work on improving gender balance on program committees of CP conferences.
I have been in the CP field since the early 1990s, when I worked on Constraint Logic Programming at the company where CP started (ECRC in Munich). From there I presented a paper at the first CP conference in 1995. After 20 years it's about time I took some responsibility, so I'm volunteering for a term on the ACP Executive Committee! My main ideas for the future of CP are as follows.
To attract new researchers CP must remain interesting and stimulating, and interacting with other fields is vital to keep it buzzing with new ideas. Of course this has already happened: for example CP already uses OR algorithms inside its global constraints, to great effect. But this process has to continue, just as AI continually adapts ideas from OR, Machine Learning, Statistics etc. Another reason to keep interacting with other fields is that fashions change, and eventually government and EU grants for pure CP will dry up. To survive CP needs to be an essential aspect of larger areas such as AI and OR, to prove its worth in hot topics such as Bioinformatics and Computational Sustainability, and to adapt techniques from (for example) Machine Learning to improve its scalability.
A lot of my work has been in this direction. I've worked on connections between CP and other fields such as SAT, Stochastic Programming, Chance Constrained Programming, Robust Optimisation, Evolutionary Computation, Statistics, Inventory Control, Artificial Neural Networks, Bioinformatics, Preferences, and Reinforcement Learning (work in progress). I've also organised CP sessions in conferences from other areas, and presented CP work at conferences such as the International Conference on Stochastic Programming, and the European Conference on Operations Research.