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Report on the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics 2016 International Conference

After San Diego (2014) and Hong Kong (2015), the annual SMC flagship conference, the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics 2016 (SMC 2016) was held in Budapest, Hungary, between 9-12 October. The organization of the conference was accomplished in a collaboration between Óbuda University, the National Taiwan University of Sciences and Technology, and IEEE Hungary Section.

SMC 2016 was dedicated to the Hungarian born John von Neumann “a Pioneer of Modern Computer Science”. In honor of him, the theme of the conference was “A theory that transformed the world to a Cyberspace.”

This year the Hotel InterContinental Budapest and the Sofitel Chain Bridge Budapest luxury hotels housed the conference – the hotels lay on the Danube promenade which is the most representative part of the downtown of Budapest.

Comparing to the recent years’ SMC conferences, it was an outstanding event ever. According to the registration data, 1049 internationally determining scientists, researchers, engineers and students did registered to the conference all over the world.

The number of total submitted papers was 1506 – one of the highest in the history of SMC. After the reviewing procedure, 637 oral and 196 poster presentations were accepted, respectively. In this way the acceptance ratio became 55% - the lowest in the recent years.

SMC 2016 – Paper submission statistics

SMC 2016 – Paper submission statistics

The participants in the highest number come from China, Japan, the US, Tunisia, Taiwan, Germany, Hungary, South-Korea, Canada, Australia, Singapore and India. However, the other countries of the Globe were represented by participants as well: in total, attendees arrived from 59 different countries.

As usual, contributions covered theoretical developments and practical applications of the Systems Science & Engineering, Human-Machine Systems and Cybernetics.

The SMC 2016’s program consisted of 49 oral sessions (including Regular, Special, Workshop, BMI and Junior sessions, respectively) and 24 e-poster sessions. In details, the oral session program contains 410 regular 288 special, 81 BMI, 36 Junior, 16 workshop and 2 demo presentations.

The conference was supported by three exhibitors from the field of Brain-Machine Interfacing. The Hungarian Lombiq introduced its newest development called hashlayer. The ANT Neuro – a Dutch firm – advertised its solutions for high-performance EEG, EMG, TMS and other signal detection and processing. The latter one g.tec from Austria introduced their new EEG systems.

For the first time in the history of SMC, an international Brain & Vision Hackathon student competition was held accompanied to the conference between 8-9 October at the conference venue. On the event both SMC 2016 attendees and non-SMC 2016 attendees participated with interests in BMI, BCI, robotics, AR, VR, machine learning, and many other similar areas. The scopes were: integration of neurotechnology with the Internet of Things (IoT), closed-loop cognitive games (including Virtual/AugmentedReality, VR/AR, sensor to Cloud Communications and Advanced AI for Analysis, active control of robotic devices using BMI, Integration of wearable EEG brain sensing into mobile, PC, and web-based apps and games (including AR/VR), robotic systems, or the Internet of Things. It was prized over $8,000 in cash and hardware, including $5000 in Vizzario/VSP Brain Hackathon Prizes, a $1000 IEEE Brain Initiative Brain Hackathon Prize, a $1000 IEEE SMC Brain Hackathon Prize, and a $1000 Qusp Prize. The event was really successful not just from the conference, but from the Brain community point of view as well – since, this was the biggest Brain Hackathon in the recent year with more than 150 participants overall.

Winners, organizers and supporters of Brain & Vision Hackathon at SMC 2016

Winners, organizers and supporters of Brain & Vision Hackathon at SMC 2016

The official Opening ceremony of the conference was on 9 October. The SMC 2016 was opened by Imre J. Rudas (General Chair of SMC 2016), Barry L. Shoop (President of IEEE), Dimitar Filev (President of IEEE SMCS), Mihály Réger (President of Óbuda University), Shun-Feng Su (Technical Program Committee Chair of SMC 2016) and Domokos Szász (Vice-President of Hungarian Academy of Sciences).

Opening ceremony

Opening ceremony

The program also included a panel session dedicated to John von Neumann “a Pioneer of Modern Computer Science”, the theme of the panel is “A theory that transformed the world to a Cyberspace”. The panel was moderated by Ferenc Friedler, the President of John von Neumann Society, Hungary.

Panelists of the John von Neumann panel

Panelists of the John von Neumann panel

Three Keynote speeches were included in the program of SMC 2016 from various research with highly recognized speakers. The first keynote talk “Advances in Brain-Machine Interface Systems” was presented by Jose M. Carmena (UC Berkeley). The speech focused on Brain-Machine Interfacing and related topics, namely, what are and how can be used the BMI technologies in connection with neuroscience.

Panelists of the John von Neumann panel

Keynote talk I: Jose M. Carmena

The second Keynote talk “Spiking Neural Networks and Spatio-Temporal Data Machines: Methods, Systems, Applications” was presented by Nikola Kasabov (Auckland University of Technology). The main topic of the speech was connected to the neural networks and their application in the daily professional life. The third Keynote on “Networked Control Systems with Industrial Applications” was held by Huijun Gao (Harbin Institute of Technology). The speaker summarized the importance of networked control systems and their connection with Industry 4.0 through illustrative examples and applications.

The workshops and tutorials were really successful at SMC 2016: 7 tutorials and 3 workshops were organized during the SMC 2016.

The Workshop on Brain-Machine Interface Systems (BMI) organized by Michael H. Smith, (University of California), Seong-Whan Lee (Korea University), Vinod A Prasad, (Nanyang Technological University), Ricardo Chavarriaga (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) and Ljiljana Trajkovic (Simon Fraser University) was the bigger workshop at SMC 2016 – with 81 papers and many individual sessions.

The Workshop on Big Data based Technological Innovations on Intelligent Health Service in the Clouds organized by Hamido Fujita (Iwate Prefectural University), Enrique Herrera-Viedma (University of Granada), Ali Selamat (Universiti Teknologi Malaysia), Amedeo Cesta (Research Council of Italy) and Francisco Chiclana (De Montfort University) reached high interest at the conference.

The first independent Workshop on Women in Engineering organized by Levente Kovács (Óbuda University) and Clara Ionescu (Ghent University) was the first in the history of SMCS.

Attendees of the WiE Workshop

Attendees of the WiE Workshop

At SMC 2016 a new e-poster technology was introduced regarding the poster presentations – in this way the printed posters were not necessary. The scheme of the presentation process was similar to the oral presentations – in this way the poster presenters got the same attention as oral ones. During SMC, the poster presentations ran on e-poster board and poster presenters used these board to present their high quality work.

Attendees of the WiE Workshop

e-Poster presentation at SMC 2016

The IEEE SMC Junior 2016 conference – a newly established initiative of SMCS - was held in Budapest this year for the first time parallel with the flagship IEEE SMC 2016. The main purpose of this new initiation is to serve as a satellite conference of the society’s flagship dedicated to Students, Graduated Students and Young Professionals. This new establishment was parallel to SMC 2016 flagship conference, but not separated from it. Moreover, every Junior participants could attend on every events of SMC 2016 as well. The main goals of SMC Junior 2016 to provide an opportunity for every Student, Graduated Student and Young Professional members for building a strong, professional and international network, meet with Experts and learn from Professionals, who are on the same scientific field.

It can be noticed that the Junior initiative was really successful compared with this was the first occasion of holding. More than 70 papers were submitted by authors from different backgrounds and countries. In details, 78 papers were sent directly to the Junior part, however, based on the reviewers opinion, only 36 studies were accepted for presentation (oral and poster). Two invited keynote talks were included into the Junior programs which were held by scientific experts both on October 10, 2016. The first Keynote speech was held by Dr. Tamás Haidegger from Óbuda University (Hungary) with the title “Robots, Men, and Cybernetics”. Dr. Haidegger highlighted the human-robot interactions, possibilities of medical robotics and take a look to the opportunities of the near future from the robotics point of view. The second Keynote speaker - Prof. Dr. Clara Ionescu from Ghent University (Belgium) – provided an overview regarding the possibilities of the control of anesthesia through modern control engineering methodologies. The title of her presentation was “Regulating Depth of Anesthesia: we are so different, yet so much alike.”

A wide range of social events were scheduled for the participants to make the conference more enjoyable, including Welcome Reception, Horse Show, Conference Dinner, Award Ceremony and Junior Post Conference Tour.

Cake specialties at the Welcome reception

Cake specialties at the Welcome reception

Traditional Hungarian rascally on the Horse show at the conference banquet

Traditional Hungarian rascally on the Horse show at the conference banquet

Horse show

Horse show

Award ceremony

Award ceremony

Attendees of Junior Post conference tour

Attendees of Junior Post conference tour