ETAI-new area "Decision and Reasoning under Uncertainty"

Salem BENFERHAT (benferha@irit.fr)
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 02:06:44 +0200 (MET DST)

Dear Colleagues,

We are very pleased to announce the creation of a new area of the
Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence (ETAI), named Decision
and Reasoning under Uncertainty (DRU), area of which we are in charge. To see
how ETAI operates and what its present state is, the best is to take a look
at the ETAI webpage http://www.ida.liu.se/ext/etai/. A brief summary is
also given below.

This new area covers researches on reasoning and decision under uncertainty
both on the methodological and on the applicative sides. Significant papers
are invited from the whole spectrum of uncertainty in Artificial
Intelligence researches. See below for the call for papers.

The reviewing process in ETAI-DRU area differs from the traditional one.
Each sumbitted paper goes through the following steps (see below for a
complete description of the reviewing process):
1. The paper is posted at the ETAI-website and is announced to DRU-community
via a newsletter. This starts a three months online (public) discussions.
2. After these three months discussions, the author decides whether he/she
wishes to have the paper refereed for the ETAI, or not.
3. If yes, the article is sent to confidential referees (timing is short,
typically 3 weeks). The article is either accepted or not accepted for the
ETAI.

Research papers which are under public discussions are located at :
"http://www.ida.liu.se/ext/etai/received/dru/received.html".
Thus, we have already received a first paper from David Poole entitled
"Decision Theory, the Situation Calculus and Conditional Plans".
To contribute to the discussion or debate section concerning submitted
papers, please send your questions or comments as an email to the area
editors (benferhat@irit.fr, prade@irit.fr).

Besides the reviewing process, we also organizes News Journals and
Newsletters. The Newsletter is sent out by e-mail regularly and is the
media through which information is distributed rapidly. The News Journal is
published 3 or 4 times per year as a digest of the information that was
sent out in the past Newsletters. Newsletters will
i) inform about new submitted papers (open to discussions),
ii) announce Conferences, Books, Journal issues, PhD thesis and technical
reports, Career Opportunities and Training, and softwares dealing
with uncertainty, and
iii) include discussions on uncertainty reasoning.

To include some announcements in one of the previous categories, please send
an email to benferhat@irit.fr and Prade@irit.fr.

Lastly, in order to maintain a list of people working on Decision and reasoning
under uncertainty, and in order to continue receiving Newsletters and News
Journals, please send the following information by email:

Last and first name, affiliation, email address, personal web-page.

Please, feel free to ask any questions about ETAI-DRU area. We hope that
you may consider the possibility of contributing papers and discussions to
the ETAI-DRU areas in the future.

Best regards
Salem Benferhat and Henri Prade

________________________________________________

1. Call for paper

Significant papers are invited from the whole spectrum of uncertainty
in Artificial Intelligence researches. Topics of interests include,
but are not restricted to:

Methods: Probability theory (Bayesian or not), Belief function theory,
Upper and lower probabilities, Possibility theory, Fuzzy sets, Rough sets,
Measures of information, ...

Problems: Approximate reasoning, Decision-making under uncertainty,
Planning under uncertainty, Uncertainty issues in learning and data mining,
Algorithms for uncertain reasoning, Formal languages for representing
uncertain information, Belief revision and plausible reasoning under
uncertainty, Data fusion, Diagnosis, Inference under uncertainty, expert
systems, Cognitive modelling and uncertainty, Practical applications, ...

Area editors: Salem Benferhat, Henri Prade, IRIT, Toulouse, France

Area editorial committee
* Fahiem Bacchus, Univ. of Waterloo, Canada
* Bernadette Bouchon-Meunier, LIP6, Univ. of Paris VI, France
* Ronen I. Brafman, Stanford, USA
* Roger Cooke, Tech. Univ. Delft, The Netherlands
* Didier Dubois, IRIT, Toulouse, France
* Francesc Esteva, IIIA-CSIC, Bellaterra, Spain
* Finn V. Jensen, Aalborg Univ., Denmark
* Jurg Kohlas, Univ. of Fribourg, Switzerland
* Rudolf Kruse, Univ. of Magdeburg, Germany
* Serafin Moral, Univ. of Granada, Spain
* Prakash P. Shenoy, Univ. of Kansas, USA
* Philippe Smets, IRIDIA, Free Univ. of Brussels, Belgium
* Marek J. Druzdzel, Univ. of Pittsburgh, USA
* Lech Polkowski, Warsaw Univ. of Technology, Poland

2. A brief summary of ETAI

The following gives some information about ETAI (to get a complete
information, take a look to the web page: http://www.ida.liu.se/ext/etai/).
In a certain sense, ETAI is an electronic journal. However, it is not simply
a traditional journal gone electronic. The differences may be summarized by
the following table describing the functions performed by a conventional
journal and by the ETAI:

Conventional Journal ETAI
Distribution
of the article A major function Not our business

Reviewing and
quality assurance A major function A major function

Debate about Difficult and not much A major function
published results done

Publication of Impossible Welcomed and already
on-line software started

Bibliographic Difficult and not much A major function
services done

The basic service of a conventional (paper) journal is to have the article
typeset, printed, and sent to the subscribers. The ETAI stays completely
away from that process: it assumes the existence of First Publication
Archives (similar to "Preprint Archives", but with a guarantee that the
articles remain unchanged for an extended period of time). The ETAI only
deals with URL:s pointing to articles that have been published (but without
international peer review) in First Publication Archives.

The reviewing and quality control is a major topic for the ETAI, like for
conventional journals. However, the ETAI pioneers the principle of
posteriori reviewing: the reviewing and acceptance process takes place after
the article has been published. This has a number of consequences, but the
major advantage from the point of view of the author is that he or she
retains the priority right of the article and its results per the original
date of publication, and independently of reviewing delays and possible
reviewing mistakes.

Reviewing in ETAI also differs from conventional journal reviewing in that
it uses a succession of several "filters", rather than one single reviewing
pass, and in that it is set up so as to encourage self-control on the side
of the authors. The intention is that ETAI's quality control shall be
considerably more strict and reliable than what is done in conventional
journals.

Besides the reviewing process, the ETAI also organizes News Journals (or
newsletters) in each
of its speciality areas. News Journals are fora for information about
current events (workshops, etc), but they will also contain debate about
recently published research results. Naturally, the on-line medium is much
more appropriate for debate than what a conventional journal is.

Compared to mailgroups, the News Journals offer a more persistent and
reputable forum of discussion. Discussion contributions are preserved in
such a way that they are accessible and referencable for the future. In
other words, they also are to be considered as "published".

One additional type of contributions in News Journals is for links to
software that is available and can be run over the net. This is particularly
valuable for software which can be run directly from a web page. Already the
first issue of an ETAI News Journal publishes two such on-line software
contributions.

The creation of bibliographies, finally, is a traditional activity in
research, but it is impractical in paper-based media since by their very
nature, bibliographies ought to be updated as new articles arrive. The
on-line maintenance of specialized bibliographies within each of its topic
areas is a natural function in the ETAI.

Generally speaking, it is clear that the electronic medium lends itself to a
different grouping of functionalities than what is natural or even possible
in the paper-based technology. For example, the bibliographic database
underlying ETAI's bibliographic services is well integrated with the
reviewing process and with the News Journals where new contributions to the
literature are first reported. Similarly, debate items pertaining to a
particular article will be accessible from the entry for the article itself.

The ETAI therefore represents a novel approach to electronic publishing. We
do not simply inherit the patterns from the older technology, but instead we
have rethought the structure of scientific communication in order to make
the best possible use of international computer networks as well as
electronic document and database technologies.

3. The ETAI Reviewing process

The reviewing process is the core activity of a scientific journal,
electronic or not. The ETAI wishes to make full use of the electronic medium
in order to obtain higher quality reviewing as a service to authors and
readers alike. The reviewing will therefore be organized in the following,
novel way.
From the point of view of the author and the individual article, this works
as follows:

. The author(s) write(s) the article, and prepares it in postscript
and/or PDF format. It is recommended to use ETAI style files.

. An informal contact with the area editor may be appropriate in order to
check that the article follows the basic formal criteria.

. The author arranges to have the article published in a first
publication archive (university E-Press, preprint archive, etc) in such
a way that it is identified now and forever with a specific URL.

. The article represented by the URL is submitted to the relevant ETAI
area for inclusion in a news journal.

. The area editor screens it and approves (hopefully) the inclusion of
the article.

. The article is subjected to open reviewing during at least six months.
The author is likely to make changes to the article based on the
feedback.

. The author decides where he wants to go for acceptance. If she chooses
e.g. JAIR or some other place except ETAI, nothing more to do.

If the author submits the article (now probably modified) to for
acceptance by the ETAI, then the area editor appoints two referees and
gives them a short amount of time to do their job. Then the area editor
decides based on the statements of the referees. See above regarding
time of submission and time of decision.

. Even after ETAI acceptance, the article "hangs around" and may engage
additional debate.

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