This week is the 6th annual SASO: the IEEE Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems. If any conference is my "home conference" at the moment, this is probably it. The attendees of this moderate size (~100 people) single track conference tend to be all over the map in terms of interests and applications, but there is one thing that clearly unites us: a dissatisfaction with the brittleness of ordinary complex systems engineering, and a desire to address it by making the systems smarter in some way.
It makes for a very diverse and rather messy conference, with a lot more proof-of-concept and early work than finished systems or grand results. There's also a lot of folks out there in the greater scientific world with really flaky ideas about how to go about this type of resilient engineering---lots of magical thinking of the form "it smells kinda like Nature, and Nature is awesome, so it must be awesome too!" The conference has tightened itself up quite a bit over time, though, and by now the quality of the papers is generally pretty good. My Ph.D. advisor, Gerry Sussman, once told me that he judges the quality of a conference by how long he remembers something that he learned there, and in that sense SASO does quite well for me.
I'm much looking forward to SASO this year, the more so because I'm going to be quite busy talking about interesting things. In particular, the highlights of the conference for me are:
- Monday, I will be talking about metrics for graceful degradation in the Workshop on Evaluation of SASO Systems
- Tuesday, I will be chairing a session in the morning and giving a demo of our self-stabilizing robot team formation algorithms in the afternoon.
- Wednesday, I will be presenting my work on the ColorPower algorithm for distributed energy demand management.
- Finally, on Thursday, I'll be sitting on a panel on New Research Directions, talking about my views on the need for nature-inspired systems to move beyond one-off applications and toward the extraction of principles and laws.
And then there's colleagues to catch up with and other talks to see... it will be a busy week, and also my first time away from home without Harriet since she was born. But fear not, dear reader, I shall salve my wounds and fatigue by writing some extra blog posts about all of the cool things I get up to this week.