Opening: The meeting opened at 17.20.
Quorum: The meeting was recognised as a quorate, there being present the President and Secretary of the BCTCS, a local organiser for BCTCS 23, and at least ten other members of the BCTCS.
Apologies: Apologies for absence were received from Bob Harper, Carnegie Mellon University, and David Manlove, University of Glasgow.
Previous minutes: The minutes of the Open General Meeting held at BCTCS 22 in Swansea were approved. The following matters were discussed:
President's statement: Faron Moller stated that he was very pleased with the number of participants (93). Thanks were conveyed to Sharon Curtis and Jeremy Gibbons for their excellent work as local organisers. The President reported that all 48 EPSRC-funded student places had been allocated. Due to the late cancellation of Bob Harper, it was not possible to recruit a replacement speaker, and hence the funding for this speaker will be returned to EPSRC. The President also reported that the LMS had once again generously provided increased funding for the meeting, and that the LMS had indicated that they'd like to continue supporting BCTCS in the future, but through supporting an international invited speaker, rather than a British speaker and student support. As the current three-year EPSRC grant to support BCTCS runs out this year, a new application for the next three years is now required.
ACTION: EPSRC application for BCTCS 2008-2010 (Faron Moller, Graham Hutton, and Stephan Reiff-Marganiec)
BCTCS Response to the 2006 International Review of ICT: A four page response by the BCTCS executive to the 2006 International Review of ICT was prepared and submitted by Faron Moller. Copies of the response were distributed at the meeting. The main points raised in the response were the perceived erosion of theoretical research in Computer Science in the UK, attracting School leavers and PhD students, and supporting PhD students in Theoretical Computer Science.
Treasurer's report: Stephan Reiff-Marganiec reported that the balance of the BCTCS bank account now stood at 5890 pounds, comprising the previous balance of 4640 pounds and the surplas of 1250 pounds returned from BCTCS 22 in Swansea. Thanks were conveyed to Swansea for returning a surplus.
Report on Arrangements for BCTCS 24: Hajo Broersma reported on the arrangements for BCTCS 24, which will be held on 7-10 April 2008 at the University of Durham. Invited speakers that have been confirmed so far include Martin Abadi (University of California, Santa Cruz), Artur Czumaj (University of Warwick), Martin Henson (University of Essex), and Leonid Libkin (University of Edinburgh). Invitations have also been extended to Martin Grohe (Humboldt-Universiteit, Berlin), and Robin Thomas (Georgia Institute of Technology). The importance of maintaining a good balance of topics was noted.
The meeting will begin late afternoon on Monday 7th April, with Robin Thomas having been invited to give a public lecture on the four-colour theorem (to be confirmed), and conclude after lunch on Thursday 10th April. The accommodation and talks will be located in Grey College, which provides a 24-hour package (en-suite room, breakfast, lunch and dinner) for around 90 pounds per day. The conference dinner will be held at Durham Castle on the evening of Tuesday 8th April, as the Castle was already booked for Wednesday 9th. The anticipated registration fee for full delegates will be around 325 pounds.
Choice of Host for BCTCS 25: Steve Matthews proposed an offer from the University of Warwick to host BCTCS 25. The meeting voted to accept Steve's proposal. Julian Bradfield also reiterated his position noted in last year's meeting, that he would like to host BCTCS 26 in Edinburgh in 2010, subject to approval by the relevant local administration. As it would be ideal for the venues of the next three meetings to be announced in the next 3-year EPSRC grant proposal, the meeting voted to accept Julian's proposal, subject to him committing to this task before submission of the grant proposal.
Any other business: None.
Learned Society for Computer Science: Following on from his presentation at BCTCS 22 in Swansea last year, Samson Abramsky gave an update on the situation regarding the formation of a Learned Society for Computer Science. His presentation summarised the history of the proposal, and explained the current state of play. Three associated documents were also distributed by Faron Moller: a copy of the initial letter that was distributed in 2004, a copy of the discussion document from CPHC regarding the formation of an Institute of Computing, and a one-page summary regarding the formation of a Learned Society for Computing.
He reported that the Learned Society proposal drafted by the UKCRC Working Group was rejected by the BCS Board of Trustees, evidently because they felt that the BCS had the mandate to be a Learned Society. Disagreement was expressed in the meeting; and indeed only five people in the meeting indicated that they were in fact members of BCS. It was expressed from the floor that a vitally important aspect of a Learned Society is that it be "owned" by its "Learned" members, and the BCS - being a very strong and worthwhile Professional Society - would never be "owned" by anyone other than its "Professional" members.
Nonetheless, the re-formed UKCRC Working Group was considering what activities the BCS could and should be carrying out in order to prove itself as a Learned Society. Along these lines, Samson Abramsky proposed that the BCTCS could carry out some "litmus test": apply for funding from the BCS Learned Society & Knowledge Services Board (LS&KSB) for Learned Society activities (such as BCTCS 24).
ACTION: Identify suitable Learned Society activities which the BCS LS&KSB could fund, and apply for such funding. (Faron Moller)
During the discussions, Samson Ambramsky and Iain Stewart (both members of the UKCRC executive committee), strongly recommended that Faron Moller should get himself onto the UKCRC executive.
ACTION: Faron Moller to explore UKCRC membership, with a view to securing a position on its executive committee. (Faron Moller)
After a period of discussion and questions, Faron Moller put forward the following enabling motion:
BCTCS has existed since 1985 with essentially only one activity in mind: to host its annual meeting. Although the need for a Learned Society for (Theoretical) Computer Science is well recognised, BCTCS does not have a constitutional mandate to carry out the various activities of a Learned Society on behalf of its members. In light of the recent failure of the UKCRC proposal to establish a Learned Society for Computer Science, the President of the BCTCS seeks support for the following enabling motion:
"This meeting authorizes the Committee of the BCTCS to develop the organisation as a Learned Society for Theoretical Computer Science, including:
- Reviewing and proposing amendments to the constitution to achieve this goal.
- Initiating organisational changes and activities to meet the challenges of being a Learned Society.
These changes, made with the full agreement of the Committee and in consultation with past Presidents, may be effected throughout the coming year, to be ratified by the general membership at BCTCS 2008 in Durham."
A show of hands was then taken, as a result of which the motion was passed with virtually unanimous support and no objections.
ACTION: Implementation of the enabling motion (BCTCS committee)
Closing: The meeting closed at 18.45