A CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY UKOLN IN ASSOCIATION WITH
THE BRITISH LIBRARY, CNI, CAUSE AND JISC
9th and 10th February 1996 at the Ramada Hotel, Heathrow, UK
This account was drafted for this report by The Marc Fresko Consultancy. It is based on notes taken during the presentation, slides used, and notes supplied by the speaker.
IGPL, the Interest Group on Pure and Applied Logic, is an international association of almost one thousand logicians from almost all the countries of the world. The Interest Group is an excellent testbed for developing an "electronic community", i.e. a community of researchers communicating in various ways over the Internet. As part of the services it provides for its members, IGPL publishes an electronic journal and is developing an electronic dictionary of logic — a distributed, refereed, dynamically updated and highly interactive database of information concerning scientific knowledge on logic. In contrast to current searching on the World Wide Web, where locating particular information can often be more a result of chance than choice, the logic database will facilitate easy and accurate access to the area of interest. A database of this scope cannot be set up by a single author, nor even by a small group, and consequently a scheme is being devised to encourage participation by the whole of the IGPL community. Such a scheme need not be confined to logic, but could be extended to a wider scientific domain, provided that support from the research community is forthcoming.
Logic is an interdisciplinary subject, with a long tradition, from Aristotle onwards, of providing foundations for examining problems in Philosophy, Mathematics, Language, Psychology and, latterly, in Computer Science and Artificial intelligence. In the late 1970s it became clear to many members of the research community that there were many similarities in the way logic is used and applied by otherwise very diverse factions. It was apparent that a great deal of mutual benefit would result from bringing these disparate groups together and establishing means by which they could communicate and collaborate.
A series of handbooks was published in the 1980s covering, in a thematic and co-operative manner, many of the research areas of logic. Currently, over twelve volumes have been published and this number is already planned to rise to forty volumes, with over twenty thousand pages, by the year 2001. A consequence of the intensive collaborative work of many scientists on these handbooks was the formation of a community of like-minded individuals. It was a natural step, therefore, to found an electronic network and an electronic journal to serve this community - a community which, in the early 1990s became the Interest Group on Pure and Applied Logic, IGPL.
The IGPL is sponsored by FoLLI, the European Association for Logic, Language and Information and currently has a membership of almost one thousand researchers in various aspects of logic from about forty different countries. Acting mainly as a research and information clearing house, its activities include:
Until the advent of electronic communications, scientific knowledge was generally imparted via journals, textbooks, conference proceedings, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and handbooks. The problem with this approach was that it tended to be chaotic, particularly if a particular piece of information was required, searching was very time-consuming and the data was static, with no updates and no animations.
On the publishing side, there were long delays - two years was not uncommon and this often fatally compromised the currency of the subject matter - and large backlogs of papers for publication. Economic factors also limited the size of papers to less than one hundred and fifty pages. Even when people independently put items on to an electronic network the quality was extremely variable, in a discipline where consistently high standards were paramount.
By 1993, however, IGPL had developed the infrastructure which would enable them to eliminate these problems by publishing their own, electronic, journal.
IGPL’s Journal is published several times per year. It was the first scientific journal on logic to be electronic in all departments (a hardcopy version is produced, but only in response to specific demand). Submission, refereeing, revising, typesetting, checking proofs and distribution are all accomplished via electronic mailing and publishing.
Each issue currently has about a thousand pages, and invites papers dealing with all areas of pure and applied logic, including pure logical systems, proof theory, model theory, recursion theory, type theory, non-classical logics, non-monotonic logic, numerical and uncertainty reasoning, artificial intelligence, foundations of logical programming, computation, language and logic engineering.
Although there are some residual problems in the realm of costs and charging policy, copyright, rate and type of expansion and technical development, most have been dealt with (in regard to copyright, for example, no restriction is placed on authors who wish to publish the same work elsewhere). Two major objectives have been realised: the average speed of publication has been reduced from two years to two months and the Journal provides encouragement for logicians to communicate with each other - an aspect which has been furthered by another IGPL activity: the logic dictionary.
The dictionary is intended as a distributed dynamic Internet archive, residing on the World Wide Web and continuously maintained by the IGPL community. Its goals will include:
Communication will be via HTML forms and the submission of contributions, editing (both on a general and topic level) and the refereeing process will be open, simple to access and easy to manipulate. Services will include search facilities, automatic notification by e-mail of new items and a referees database.
IGPL is tasked with establishing the dictionary and its procedures, means and tools for maintenance, operation and evolution, both in electronic and social terms. There are two primary objectives:
The IGPL has indeed developed an electronic community, effectively eliminating distance as a barrier to access to information, ideas, expertise and people with similar interests. By the year 2001 that community will directly link the student at home with the world of logic, with the dictionary of logic knowledge, with the twenty thousand pages of the logic handbooks and with a society with interests centred around logic. It is estimated that there are perhaps only ten thousand people world-wide directly working in the logic domain. But logic is a junction which impinges on and influences many more subject areas. In that respect the IGPL will reach out to and provide services for a vast audience for whom electronic communications will be the predominant means of knowledge access in the twenty-first century.
Further information is available from any of the following:
and on the World Wide Web at URLs:
British Library R&D Report 6250
© The British Library Board 1996
© Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Bodies 1996
The opinions expressed in this report are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the sponsoring organisations.
The primary publication medium for this report is via the Internet at URL
It may also be purchased as photocopies or microfiche from the British Thesis Service, British Library Document Supply Centre, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7BQ.
This report of the conference was prepared by The Marc Fresko Consultancy Telephone +44 181 645 0080 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Converted to HTML by Isobel Stark of UKOLN, July 1996