Minutes of the IT Society Board of Governors Meeting
Ulm Germany, July 4 1997

Greg Pottie

Attendees: Julia Abrahams, Benhamm Aazhang, Vijay Bhargava, Ezio Biglieri, Matin Bossert, Agnes Chan, Michelle Effros, Bob McEliece, Thomas Ericson, Pat Fitzpatrick, Dave Forney, Tom Fuja, Jerry Gibson, Joachim Hagenauer, Bruce Hajek, Alfred Hero, Michael Honig, Hideki Imai, Steve McLaughlin, Neri Merhav, Urbashi Mitra, Greg Pottie, Ramesh Rao, Shlomo Shamai, Francis Swarts, Wojciech Szpankowski, Mahesh Varanasi, Alexander Vardy, Sergio Verdu, Han Vinck, Victor Wei, Stephen Wicker, Jacob Ziv

1. The meeting was called to order at 1:52 PM by Sergio Verd\'u. He thanked the organizers of the Symposium. Martin Bossert reported there were roughly 700 people attending.

2. The minutes of the March 1997 BoG meeting at Johns Hopkins University were approved.

3. Tom Fuja reported on an impending reorganization at NSF, whereby communications is to be split from networking and attached to signal processing, with the whole to be part of a program in communications and computing research (CCR). Members are encouraged to individually convey to NSF their support for continued support for communications research, and also to consider serving at NSF when Tom leaves his position next year.

4. Vijay Bhargava reported on the TAB meeting in Cleveland, June 27-28. The TAB book broker program is a convenient method of post-conference distribution of publications. The distribution of workshop and conference records by this means to institutions is a way of generating some revenue. Another item is a new IEEE set of criteria for approving new publications, which will be more stringent than in the past out of concerns that the publication package is becoming diluted. The IEEE is also undergoing a major reorganization, resulting in re-writing of bylaws by all major boards. Of particular note is that US members will directly elect a USA president. However, the changes will have little impact on Societies. Of note for the IT Society, 51% of Society members now reside outside the USA.

5. Benhaam Aazhang presented the Treasurer's report. $300K has been moved from short term to long term investments based on IEEE advice that 70% of assets should be long term.

6. Dave Forney made the Fellowship Evaluation Committee report. 14 were nominated as Fellows this year compared to 8-10 in past years; generally the Information Theory Society is successful in about half the cases. Vincent Poor will head the committee in the coming year. Nomination packets prepared by Sergio Verd\'u were helpful this past year, and the suggestion was made that these be distributed every year.

7. Michelle Effros reported on the Newsletter. She investigated some concerns expressed at the last BoG meeting regarding the time it takes IEEE to produce and mail the Newsletter, as well as the expense. Generally, the processing time at IEEE is around one month. Private quotes were for less money, and suggested faster turn around time, but these do not include the cost of maintaining the mailing list, and arrangements would likely need to be changed for each editor. Subsequent discussion focussed on the timeliness of delivery. Issues are now mailed second class, although members can purchase from IEEE the option of airmail delivery of all publications. Since the Newsletter is placed on the web now, members anxious for conference registration forms and other time- sensitive announcements can access them there.

8. Steve McLaughlin presented the Transactions report. We are on budget with respect to page count with essentially no backlog, and the 1998 special issue is on track. Two new associate editors were nominated: Alexander Barg for coding theory and Imre Csiszar for Shannon theory. The motion carried. Steve McLaughlin was asked to investigate the cost of plastic wrappers since the mail sometime delivers paper wrappers without the issues. The BoG approved a 1998 page budget of 2600 pages.

9. Ezio Biglieri gave the report for the Ad Hoc committee for the 50th anniversary. Bruce Hajek moved that we authorize production of a special issue of the Newsletter with a page budget of up to 64 pages. The motion carried. There was little enthusiasm for commemorative pins or certificates, however, the BoG approved a motion to have a contest for a new logo for the Society, with a prize. All members could vote electronically on the designs. Urbashi Mitra will run the contest and make arrangements to professionalize the winning design. There was considerable discussion of whether the Society should award 50th anniversary technical achievement awards. The awards would be intended both to honor the innovators, and also to advertise the collective achievements of the Society. The following motion was made by Ezio Biglieri: Information Theory golden jubilee awards will be presented in 1998 for technological achievements based on information-theoretical ideas. An ad-hoc committee, formed by the President, Vice Presidents and Past Presidents for 1998 will be charged with (1) advertising the awards, (2) soliciting external nominations, (3) generating other nominations, and (4) submitting to the BoG recommendations of recipients. It carried by a 12 to 5 vote.

10. Jerry Gibson gave the report of the nominations committee. Bruce Hajek moved that the following be nominated as BoG candidates: Benhaam Aazhang, Andrew Barron, Agnes Chan, Michelle Effros, Tom Fuja, Te Sun Han (Region 10), Brian Hughes, Frank Kschischang, Mike Marcellin, Stephan Mclaughlin, Alon Orlitsky, Shlomo Shamai (Region 8), Alexander Vardy, Frans M.J. Willems (Region 8), Bin Yu, and Ken Zeger. The motion carried. Victor Wei nominated Tom Ericson to be President for 1998. Nominations were then closed. Steve Wicker nominated Ezio Biglieri to be the First Vice President. Nominations were then closed. Shlomo Shamai nominated Joachim Haganauer to be 2nd Vice President, and Bob McEliece nominated Vijay Bhargava. Nominations were then closed. Ballots will be sent out shortly.

11. Thomas Ericson gave the report of the awards committee. After some discussion of various options, the committee was asked to present a recommendation at the September meeting of the BoG.

12. Stephen McLaughlin reported on the effort to produce a cumulative index, and in particular thanked Ramesh Rao for his exceptional effort. This has now become a digital library project, with the aim of creating an archive of all Information Theory Society publications in a form that is easy to search and that will have longevity. A motion that the BoG authorize up to $100K for the creation of a digital library of the Transactions on Information Theory carried after uniformly favorable discussion of the research potential. Continuing costs for maintenance of the archive are expected to be roughly $12K per year. Delivery means being considered are the web and CD ROMs. A report on options will be made at the next BoG meeting, at which point it is suggested that a new committee be formed to run the project.

13. The Ad Hoc committee on Transactions Policy report was made by Jerry Gibson. To reduce the time between submission of papers to publication, the committee recommended that a system be instituted to reward reviewers who produce timely and thorough reviews, since reviewer response is the main bottleneck. The following was moved: 1) The Society shall allocate $20,000 for 1998 to fund a program of "Reviewer Appreciation Awards" on a trial basis. The award will consist of a letter of appreciation signed by the Editor in Chief and the Society President together with a small check ($100). 2) Reviews will be nominated by Associate Editors and the program will be administered by the Editor in Chief. He will report to the Society President and Board of Governors every quarter. There was much discussion related to this motion, which carried by a 9 to 8 vote.

14. Symposia and Workshops

a. 1996 IT Workshop, Haifa. Shlomo Shamai requested that the surplus generated by the workshop be returned to the Israeli Information Theory Section to allocate to student travel. There ensued some discussion of Society policy on dealing with surpluses and losses; in general we expect that the terms on sharing of profits and losses agreed to before a workshop be respected, although each case must be judged on its merits. A motion was made that the Information Theory Society grants $8700 to the Israeli Information Theory Section for the purpose of student travel grants for information theory related conferences and workshops.

b. 1997 ISIT Ulm. Han Vinck noted that there were 703 participants, a record. Having two program chairs worked out well, and this will be repeated for the next ISIT. 70 travel grants were made to non-USA participants, and 50 to USA participants. There is concern at the 6% rate of no-shows for presentations; data will be shared with the organizers of the next ISIT to try to reduce this. Vijay Bhargava moved that the BoG recognize the organizers' exceptional effort in running the conference. The motion carried unanimously and with applause.

c. July IT Workshop, Longyearbyen. Benhaam Aazhang presented the workshop budget, which projects a loss of roughly $1K. The budget was approved on the basis of 50% cost sharing of profit and loss.

d. Sept. 1997 Int. Symp. Turbo Codes, Brest. Everything appears to be on track.

e. Feb. 1998 IT Workshop, San Diego. No report was made.

f. June 1998 KNAW Colloquium, Amsterdam. This Colloquium is funded by the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Netherlands. Invitations to speak and attend the Colloquium will be issued by the organizers. A web page is set up: http://imgard.exp-math.uni-essen.de/~immink/akcol/coll.html.

g. June 1998 Workshop Killarney. Pat Fitzpatrick reported. The session chairs have met, a home page is set up (http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~scoffey/itw98.html), and they are working to raise money for travel grants. There is also activity to form an IT chapter in the UK and Ireland.

h. Aug. 1998 ISIT, MIT. The abstracts will be posted on the web prior to the workshop. Sergio Verd\'u announced that Neil Sloane was selected to be the 1998 Claude Shannon Award winer.

i. June 1999 IT Workshop, Metsovo, Greece. Wojciech Szpankowski reported. This will be advertised as a twin workshop with South Africa. There will be three plenary sessions, three panels, and six sessions.

j. June 1999 IT Workshop, Kruger National Park. Francis Swarts circulated a report on the program and costs. Some modifications will be made in the process of coordinating with the workshop in Greece. The budget aims for balance. A set of typical costs for participants has also been produced. Vijay Bhargava moved the Society make a loan of $5K to the organizers. The motion carried.

k. Fall 1999. Jody O'Sullivan is proposing a workshop on statistical methods and estimation; details will be reported at subsequent BoG meetings.

l. June 2000 ISIT, Sorrento. A flyer with the invitation has been produced; it and the call for papers will be presented at the MIT ISIT. A budget will be produced at the next BoG meeting.

15. Members and Chapters. There were relatively few responses to our inquiries on activities by chapters; IEEE suspects several are dormant or inactive. Methods to increase activities are under investigation. Urbashi Mitra reported that the information table at ISIT resulted in a fair number of IEEE application forms being picked up. In the future, use of banners might attract even more attention. Methods are being considered to encourage adjunct/associate members to join the IT Society.

16. The next meeting of the BoG will be in Urbana-Champaign on Sept. 29, 1997.

17. The meeting adjourned at 6:01 PM.