Minutes of the Open General Meeting of the BCTCS

BCTCS 21, University of Nottingham, 23 March 2005

The meeting opened at 17:05.

Quorum: The meeting was recognised as quorate, there being present the President and Treasurer of the BCTCS, the Local Organiser for BCTCS 21, and at least ten other members of the BCTCS.

Apologies: Julian Bradfield.

Previous minutes: The minutes of the Open General Meeting held at BCTCS 20 were approved. The following matters arising were discussed:

President's statement: Faron Moller stated that he was delighted to see such a large attendance. The meeting conveyed a vote of thanks to Graham Hutton for organising an excellent colloquium and for encouraging so many people to come.

Treasurer's statement: Stephan Reiff-Marganiec reported that there had been no deposits or withdrawals on the BCTCS bank account since the previous year, and therefore last year's balance of 3,865 remains unchanged, apart from any possible accrual of interest.

In response to a question from Alan Gibbons, the Treasurer stated that the EPSRC funds are directed towards a Swansea research grant budget. John Tucker stated that it would not be possible to claim this money immediately in full from EPSRC and transfer it into the BCTCS bank account for the purposes of accruing interest.

Proposed alterations to the constitution: Several proposed amendments to the BCTCS constitution were received in writing from Julian Bradfield prior to the Open General Meeting. These were:

Report on BSTCS: Faron Moller described the latest position concerning a proposed Learned Society in Theoretical Computer Science (to be named the British Society for Theoretical Computer Science). Together with Samson Abramsky and David Pym, he had sent a proposal outlining the case for the Learned Society to 165 members of the Theoretical Computer Science community. They obtained 108 responses in support of the proposal and founder membership. 18 people indicated that they were not interested in being a founder member of such a society, and some of these responses were critical of the proposal itself. Faron Moller noted that they had in particular sought guidance and support from key members of related organisations, and received such support from, for example, Rick Thomas (chair of the Computer Science Committee of the LMS) and Jonathan Bowen (Chairman of BCS-FACS). However some have argued that the proposal should go further, and that a Learned Society in Computer Science should be created. The Executive Committee of the UKCRC have discussed this issue and have set up a working party, chaired by Wendy Hall, to explore further the viability of such a society. The working party is due to report back to the AGM of the UKCRC on July 15. If this proposal is adopted then BSTCS could become a special interest group of a Learned Society in Computer Science. On the other hand a lack of progress on this front could reinforce the view that a stand-alone Learned Society in Theoretical Computer Science is the only viable way forward.

EATCS: Faron Moller reported that the Editor of the Bulletin of the EATCS, Vladimir Sassone, has placed a limit of two pages on conference reports for the Bulletin, in view of production costs. This effectively prevents the publication of the abstracts of the invited and contributed talks held at BCTCS, as has been usual practice in previous years. Faron Moller indicated that he is continuing to negotiate with the EATCS to try to ensure that the publication of abstracts can continue in future years, bearing in mind that the EATCS receives a substantial component of its annual UK subscription fees from BCTCS registration fees, most of which being for PhD students who would likely otherwise not join, and all of which are passed on to the EATCS by the BCTCS local organiser at a single transaction providing for a low administrative overhead for the EATCS. It is hoped that the Editor will be sympathetic towards the BCTCS stance.

It was noted that the Abstracts would likely be accepted for publication by BCS-FACS. However, while this would be desirable, it was nonetheless felt important to maintain the international dissemination offered through publication in the EATCS Bulletin.

Faron Moller suggested to the meeting that he would like to approach the Bulletin Editor and indicate that, if the Bulletin would not agreed to print the abstracts of the BCTCS, this year and the next few years, then the monies earmarked for EATCS memberships from this meeting be used instead for further PhD places at future BCTCS meetings. This would mean that the BCTCS membership would forfeit the usual (though generally unexpected) benefit of one-year EATCS membership. Chris Tofts proposed (seconded by Stephan Reiff-Marganiec) that the meeting agree to this position, and the meeting voted in support of this proposal. Alan Gibbons also indicated that he could investigate the situation in his role as a member of EATCS council.

ACTION: Faron Moller, Alan Gibbons.

Elections to Organising Committee Posts: Overseen by the President.

Report on arrangements for BCTCS 22, 2006: Markus Roggenbach reported on the state of BCTCS 22. The meeting would be held on April 4-7. It was noted that this was a week early, given the timing of Easter next year, to avoid conflict with the New Directions in Proof Complexity workshop at the Newton Institute, Cambridge. The timing of BCTCS 22 will also avoid conflict with ETAPS. Invited speakers who have confirmed so far include Prof Hajo Broersma, University of Durham, Prof Tony Hoare, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Prof Peter Mosses, University of Wales Swansea, and Prof Moshe Vardi, Rice University, Houston. 24 assisted student places will be sponsored by the EPSRC, and the LMS was expected to provide additional support.

Choice of host for BCTCS 23: Sharon Curtis proposed a joint offer from Oxford Brookes University and Oxford University to host BCTCS 23. It was suggested the administration of the meeting would be handled by Brookes and the meeting itself would take place at a college of Oxford University (though this is yet to be confirmed), since the Brookes semester would still be running at that time. The meeting voted to accept Sharon Curtis' proposal.

AOCB: In response to a question from Rajeev Raman, Faron Moller confirmed that Hajo Broersma would be the "LMS Discrete Mathematics invited speaker" for BCTCS 22, in pursuit of fostering the relationship between Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at BCTCS.

Faron Moller conveyed his gratitude to David Manlove for taking the minutes of the Open General Meeting in Julian Bradfield's absence.

Closure: The meeting closed at 18:10.

David Manlove