I've this long list of things I've been meaning to blog about over the past few months. I recall making a rather drunken post from BundyFest at the time, but I thought I might try a more sober round up of the event. In brief, Alan Bundy, my PhD supervisor is 61 so we had a symposium to celebrate his 60th Birthday and the opening of the "Informatics Forum" - the rather fancy title of the new Departmental building created for Informatics in Edinburgh, after their previous department burned down in mysterious circumstances.
Alan has worked primarily in Automated Reasoning a field which, one the whole, I would say really took off in 1965 when Alan Robinson
published "A Machine-Oriented Logic Based on the Resolution Principle". Alan Bundy started working in what was then the Metamathematics Unit at the University of Edinburgh in 1971 and this became a part of the the Department of Artificial Intelligence in 1974. It's worth remembering how young the field was at this time. Automated Reasoning was only 10 years on from its first major result (Robinson's Resolution paper mentioned above) and it was only 20 years since John McCarthy
coined the term "Artificial Intelligence". So it's not surprising that Alan Bundy's early work also involved what are now considered separate subfields such as Machine Learning, Automated Software Engineering and Natural Language. At the symposium a number of his colleagues and students were invited to talk and they were spread across all these fields.
I would identify two major themes from the talks and panel sessions held at the symposium:( What happened to Strong General Artificial Intelligence )( Ontologies are the Grand Challenge )
Other interesting factlets:Ewen MacLean
wrote a Jazz piece based on rippling (probably Alan Bundy's most famous automated reasoning technique) which was performed by what, I gather, are some of Scotland's best Jazz musicians, at the reception. I don't pretend to understand how the music related to rippling though.
Everything was being filmed for posterity but that meant everyone taking the microphone to ask a question was supposed to identify themselves. Much amusement was thereby had every time Alan Bundy asked a question and started it by saying "I'm Alan Bundy".
Alan's PhD supervisor Reuben Goodstein
was, in turn, supervised by Wittgenstein. I've always been rather pleased by the fact that, in PhD terms, I am a descendent of Wittgenstein and, of course, via Wittgenstien of Bertand Russell.
The most important thing Alan ever told me was that really intelligent people worry more about understanding things than looking stupid. Therefore they ask questions whenever they don't understand something. I'm not as good at this as I should be.