The 21st IFAC World Congress 2020 is welcoming you as part of the global automatic control community onboard the 1st Virtual IFAC World Congress spaceship.
Following the 60 years tradition in IFAC – the International Federation of Automatic Control –, every three years, starting from 1960 in Moscow, the international automatic control community meets to exchange and discuss the most recent research findings in the broad field of systems, control, and automation. With several thousand attendees from all over the world, the IFAC World Congress is the biggest and most important meeting of this kind. This year, the memorable year 2020, Germany with its capital Berlin is proudly hosting the 21st IFAC World Congress 2020 following the motto “Automatic Control – Meeting Societal Challenges”.
It could have never been expected that this motto could become alive in such drastic manner that the COVID-19 pandemic would force the World Congress to undergo a metamorphosis into the 1st Virtual IFAC World Congress, the IFAC-V 2020.
The organizers of IFAC-V 2020 accepted this special challenge and put all efforts into offering you a really exciting and lively World Congress program on the virtual and global podium of the World Wide Web.
For the organizers as well as for you as attendees, it will be an adventure, like flying in a spaceship, to explore the virtual space for making and attending the 1st Virtual IFAC World Congress.
The organizers put all efforts into maintaining all classical congress events like plenaries, a broad scope of scientific sessions, tutorials, workshops, round table discussions, and even interactive elements like demonstrators, competitions, and social events, but offering all of them in a new format, now as virtual congress elements.
IFAC President 2017-2020
It is my great pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and on behalf of the congress organizing team to this first virtual IFAC World Congress ever.
For IFAC, the World Congress is not merely a very big conference on systems and control (in fact it is the biggest of its kind), but it is the one event that all other IFAC meetings (the almost 100 IFAC conferences and the over 200 organizational meetings between World Congresses) are aligned and oriented towards. For IFAC, the World Congress marks the end of a triennium, the end of the term of office of the current leadership and at the same time the start of a new triennium with newly elected IFAC officials for the next three years.
When looking back on the last three years as IFAC president, I am not only astounded how fast time passed, but I am also happy that we did make a difference – lasting changes that will hopefully show their positive and beneficial impact for the future of IFAC: From important transformations of the executive structure of IFAC, to new initiatives benefitting the control community at large (like the new activity fund; the IFAC Distinguished Lecturer Program; the IFAC diversity strategy; new awards; the IFAC Code of Conduct; a journal reviewing concept; POL changing to diamond open access; the website archiving initiative; a new dedicated IFAC conference app; …). I especially want to mention our various efforts to keep the rising conference registration fees for conferences in bounds. I think it is fair to say that we moved away from a stable steady state, embraced change as something positive, and found new ways, ideas and projects moving IFAC forward. I am indebted to the more than 2000 volunteers within IFAC that made this possible in the first place: to not only get the day-to-day work done, but also keep questioning, changing and improving all these different aspects in IFAC to better “serve all those concerned with the theory and application of automatic control and systems engineering, wherever situated” (my favourite part of the IFAC constitution).
At the same time, of course, this also means that with the end of the Berlin World Congress, my term of presidency ends. But what an end! I am happy and proud what our organizing team under the Congress Coordinating Chair Klaus Janschek has pulled together. From the great efforts already put into the planning of an in-person meeting, to the sorrows, headaches – and also disappointments – when it became clear that an in person meeting is out of the question, to the harvested energy and motivation to make this a hopefully unique, exciting and outstanding first virtual World Congress. While probably all the World Congress organizers over the years have had, and always will have, their ups and downs, I think it is fair to say that we have gone through a particularly emotional roller-coaster. From the day it became clear that a virtual congress was the best call, we had weekly and sometimes rather daily meetings with the whole core team; struggles, arguments, days of relieve and hope, ambition and visions – working together towards this joint goal. I want to cordially thank the Coordinating Chair Klaus Janschek for always keeping a cool head and leading the team through this roller coaster, the IPC Co-Chairs Rolf Findeisen and Sandra Hirche for their time and efforts doing an excellent job, and each single other member of the core team, of the working groups and also all other helping hands all over the world. This was an immense team effort! Personally, I am particularly indebted to Anne Koch and Julian Berberich, the two personal assistants who supported me in a most perfect way with my many tasks as IFAC President and with my tasks as part of the World Congress organizing team. Thank you very much!
Now, having thanked all the IFAC officials for such a productive triennium, having thanked the World Congress organizing team and all helping hands for pulling together such an incredible first virtual World Congress, I am left to say thank you to you! Yes, you! I really want to whole heartedly thank all participants of the World Congress, who registered, who uploaded their final papers and videos as scheduled, who trusted us to make this a worthwhile high-quality virtual congress and supported us by participating. Only a negligible number of authors withdrew their submission and a record number of almost three thousand contributions will be presented at this World Congress.
With the dedicated work of the organizers and all others who helped, plus the support of the whole community, this virtual Congress stands the chance to be a great success. And if – after this week – we agree that it was indeed a success, then I consider the IFAC-V 2020 a success story of the community. A success story from which we will probably learn also for the future and from which some formats and ideas will stay for the time beyond the Corona crisis.
Finally, let me wish us all a very interesting and stimulating congress, inspiring talks and presentations, watched from your office, your home or in a seminar room together with some colleagues. Let us take the initiative and make use of the social interaction possibilities, discussing ideas, meeting colleagues and making new friends. Let us make the most out of the options and formats offered. Let us make this World Congress not only a first, but a successful first virtual World Congress.
President of the International Federation of Automatic Control
General Chair IFAC 2020
A warm welcome - “Herzlich willkommen!” - to the 21st IFAC World Congress 2020 with the motto: Automatic Control – Meeting Societal Challenges!
We were expecting to welcome you to Berlin, the exciting capital city of Germany, the vibrant cross point of innovation, science and culture. And now, as force majeure challenged our plans, we still keep the meeting point, we just reverse the motion: Berlin and Germany are going to you, meeting you on the global podium of the World Wide Web at the 1st Virtual IFAC World Congress!
The German automation and control community has close ties with IFAC from the very beginning: IFAC was founded 1956 in Heidelberg, the IFAC secretariat was located until 1975 in Düsseldorf, the 50th IFAC anniversary was celebrated 2006 in Heidelberg, to date 81 IFAC events (sponsored/co-sponsored) have been held in Germany and this year Germany is proudly hosting the 21st IFAC World Congress.
Now the IFAC World Congress returns to Germany after 33 years, the 10th edition was held 1987 in Munich, and it returns in a very special way, so to speak in the double “1st“ role: as the 21st IFAC World Congress and simultaneously as the 1st Virtual IFAC World Congress.
Virtual congress story book
Normally one gets only the chance once in lifetime to organize an IFAC World Congress, for the IFAC 2020 organization team this has become true even twice at one time: preparing one traditional in-person congress for more than six years and preparing one congress in a completely different and new format, a completely virtual congress to be set up within a few months. What special experiences, what tremendous challenges!
Preparing for a 4000+ person event is already a big challenge, in particular when done within a scientific community with mostly volunteer team members. After more than six years the preparations converged to a “perfect” or at least to a “best as possible” in-person congress at unique event areas in Berlin. Numerous on-site visits with checking rooms and locations, tasting of menus, up to riding public transportation for ensuring smooth traffic during the congress week gave us confidence for being ready to run a smooth in-person congress: 22.000 m2 congress area for 25 parallel sessions, plenary lectures, demonstrations and competitions, 10.000 m2 event area and catering for congress dinner party, 1000+ hotel rooms, technical equipment, catering … each single dish with local German foods and beer was planned and ordered.
We could never imagine that the IFAC 2020 motto “Meeting Societal Challenges” eventually could become THE key driver for the 2020 IFAC World Congress. After the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, we still tried for long time to keep the in-person congress planning and just to complement it by some virtual elements for some, at that time anticipated few, participants not allowed to travel. When it became evident that travel restrictions and even lockdowns had been implemented globally with uncertain timeline, and after careful trade-off of feasible work-around solutions, we decided to switch to a completely virtual congress. This decision was the hardest we could imagine, because it affected both your disappointed expectations and our destroyed laborious preparations for an in-person congress.
And yet, it is said that every crisis offers new chances and may give birth to new ideas and solutions. In this spirit the whole IFAC 2020 organizing team accepted this challenge and worked hard in the last weeks to bring forward numerous new ideas and formats for securing quality of a virtual congress and still bringing to all of us in the best possible way the atmosphere of a real World Congress.
IFAC-V 2020 facts and highlights
As you can see from the IFAC-V 2020 program we have tried to keep all main elements of a traditional World Congress and adapting them to the virtual world, for some elements we even found some new and promising opportunities. We gladly let Digitalization, one of our addressed societal challenges, work for us.
Running a World Congress means first to think globally and still act locally for convenience of the participants distributed over five continents. The backbone for coping with spatial distribution and time concurrency is the IFAC-V 2020 Global Live Track, offering a total of 40 hours with live event character. In the framework of this track that will run during the five congress days July 13-17, all events with live character will be featured concurrently in a daily 4-6 hour time slot. This time slot is chosen such that it is at a (more or less) acceptable time of day in all global time zones. Events of the Global Live Track, like the opening and closing ceremonies of the congress, plenaries, semi-plenaries, industrial keynotes, awards, tutorials, competitions, demonstrators and panel discussions will offer screencasts supplemented by live components.
The 2956 final contributions will be presented in 250+ Virtual Sessions. All presentations will be made available for on-demand download as pre-recorded screencasts/videos in addition to the PDFs of the papers. Interactive discussions for each contribution by means of online forums will give you opportunities for lively public and individual discussions.
The scientific program is complemented by a Workshop Day on Saturday, July 11, offering a series of workshops with a broad scope of topics.
The biggest challenge for a virtual congress for sure are the social aspects in terms of having personal exchange, discussions and fun with colleagues and friends. Yes this is indeed an indispensable element of every IFAC World Congress and it is the most difficult to build up virtually. Beside your individual usage of social media, we have set up some social platforms, such as focused forums for registered participants, fostering mutual scientific discussions. Please enjoy also the first time IFAC-V 2020 cultural event: the unique IFAC (Virtual) Control Orchestra and enjoy and actively participate in the very special IFAC-V 2020 surprise social events.
Whoever has prepared an IFAC event knows best about the organizational challenges for managing and building a congress on primarily voluntarily basis. This is now the right place to pay tribute to the big team and supporters who made IFAC-V 2020 possible and eventually to launch it successfully to virtual space. My first thank goes to Frank Allgöwer, who actually is the father of this World Congress, he successfully lead the German application jointly with Dieter Westerkamp (VDI) when being selected by the IFAC Council for hosting the 2020 World Congress, and Frank continuously contributed with innovative ideas and actively participated in the congress preparations, far beyond his responsibilities as IFAC president.Big thanks and appreciation go to the IPC – International Program Committee IPC – with the outstanding Co-Chairs Rolf Findeisen and Sandra Hirche. They set up a terrific scientific program, thanks to all the IFAC Technical Committees and thousands of colleagues worldwide performing the incredible number of more than 13300 paper reviews. As you experience it today, the congress wouldn’t look like this without the significant personal efforts and commitments of the NOC – National Organizing Committee – and here to mention in particular the Core Team and the Virtual Congress Taskforce, chaired by the “Virtual Mastermind” Rolf Findeisen. He succeeded in implementing such a big virtual event without any blueprint in only 10 weeks … incredible great job done! Honest appreciation is given to the German IFAC National Member Organization, the VDI – Verein Deutscher Ingenieure for taking the financial patronage, a big thanks is given to our industrial sponsors and institutional supporters, thanks to the IFAC Foundation for supporting young authors from developing countries, thanks also for the fruitful cooperation with the IFAC secretariat and last but not least to all of you for participating in IFAC-V 2020 and making it a lively and eventually a real and memorable event!
Let me finish with some personal thoughts addressing particularly the many young researchers joining IFAC-V 2020. I remember well my excitement when presenting a paper as young aerospace engineer from industry at the 1987 IFAC World Congress in Munich. Joining the presentations and following the discussions gave me a big push for continuing research and intellectual exchange on international level. Now 33 years later, when the IFAC World Congress returns to Germany, gives me the never expected opportunity by contributing as General Chair together with the IFAC-V 2020 organization team offering you the same excitement and pushing you to go forward curious on science, open minded on diversity and respectful on our all global societal challenges … the floor is yours!
IFAC-V 2020 World Congress
IPC Co-Chairs IFAC 2020
It is our great pleasure to welcome you to the first ever virtual IFAC World Congress. We started out on our congress journey more than six years ago with the vision of organizing a vibrant and innovative 21st IFAC World Congress in Berlin. On top of the chance to enjoy a wide variety of scientific contributions, attending the event would also have been a great opportunity to explore and experience the many colors and facets of the German capital.
Virtualizing IFAC 2020
Influenced by the impacts of COVID-19, our journey ultimately became quite an adventure, charting completely unknown territory. The organizing team put in tremendous effort to reshape and virtualize the congress in less than three months. The entire program – carefully planned and outlined over the past six years by the international program committee and local program committee – had to be turned on its head. Tasks that would otherwise have been the responsibility of a large group of people ended up being handled by a small handful in the run-up to the congress. Completely new challenges emerged – how to handle and collect more than 3,000 videos of all the congress contributions? And is it even technically feasible to have 30 parallel (sometimes live) sessions?
Success built on a strong team
Organizing all of this would have been impossible without the tireless help of our core team. Our special thanks for their unwavering commitment during the final and most intensive preparation phase go to Eric Bullinger, Martin Mönnigmann, Sergio Lucia, Thomas Schauer, their respective teams, and our Congress Manager Silke Nienhausen. The congress in its current form would have been unthinkable without their continuing support. As part of a coordinated large-scale effort, they handled the checking of the PDFs, organized a review of the videos, and established all the required technical mechanisms. Lars Grüne did an excellent job in organizing the twelve workshops, Carsten Scherer took care of the five tutorial sessions, and Sebastian Trimpe brought all the challenging competitions together. Initially planned for a live session, demonstrations were put into virtual cyberspace by Steffi Knorn and Knut Graichen. Meanwhile, Christian Ebenbauer handled the seemingly endless number of invited sessions.
The congress in numbers
With 4,235 paper submissions, 93 submitted proposals for open invited tracks, 77 for invited sessions and 34 pre-conference workshops, IFAC-V 2020 is the largest IFAC World Congress ever. We are delighted that we were able to count on a highly committed community to review the contributions, despite the very limited time we gave them. The 39 technical committee chairs and over 340 associate editors also did a tremendous job completing their work on time. More than 32,290 review requests were sent out. Ultimately, 23,318 review requests were accepted, while a total of 13,355 reviews have been received to date. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic striking during a crucial period of publication decisions, a record number of 2,954 papers and extended abstracts have been submitted to form the core of the final technical program.
A virtual world congress – how will it work?
The new congress experience is the result of an endless stream of discussions. It is based on a collection of more than 2,900 videos/screencasts for most contributions, accompanied by PDFs of presentation slides and papers spanning more than 370GB of final data. Most contributions are being presented in the so-called virtual track, which is organized into 263 virtual sessions, including 50 invited sessions, 67 open invited sessions, and 2 late-breaking results sessions. Nearly all contributions can be enjoyed as videos available for streaming at any time. For the first time in the history of the IFAC World Congress, you will not have to decide which session to attend – indeed you could even watch them ALL, if you can spare the time to watch non-stop for 35 days that is! We hope that the forums provided for each contribution will facilitate highly productive scientific discussions. The virtual event is complemented by a global live track, which will be streamed in “real time”. It opens with a workshop day on Saturday and continues Monday through Friday with fantastic plenaries, tutorials, panel discussions, keynotes, as well as exciting and inspiring competitions.
We hope you enjoy the IFAC-V 2020 World Congress – an IFAC congress like no other!
Sandra Hirche, Rolf Findeisen
IPC Co-Chairs IFAC 2020
IFAC-V 2020 World Congress
VDI – The Association of German Engineers
Dear friends, dear members of the IFAC community:
It is a pleasure to welcome you all on behalf of the German NMO, the VDI/VDE Society for Measurement and Automatic Control. We are proud – after about 70 IFAC conferences in Germany since 1960 – to be the host of the 21st IFAC World Congress. In 2013, we applied to organize the Congress in 2020 themed “Meeting Societal Challenges”. At that time, we definitely had no idea that this motto would fit to the current situation worldwide in such a manner.
Due to the Corona pandemic, we will host the IFAC World Congress in digital space. This is the first IFAC World Congress in the field of control and automation technology being held virtually – we feel a bit like pioneers again. It was in the year 1956, when the predecessor organization of the German NMO and the Association of Engineers in Germany VDI organized the first worldwide control conference “Regelungstechnik” in Heidelberg. This event played an important role in the foundation and history of IFAC.
About the experience of the World Congress in digital space we are very excited. How intense will the learnings and discussions be? How will participants find their way through the broad program? How will participation be per topic or per daytime? And above all: Which of the digital formats will also play a role in future IFAC conferences? Or will we even meet regularly worldwide in a digital IFAC room in the future? In any case, this 21st IFAC World Congress will be different from all previous ones – and we will learn a lot from it. We like to thank all committee members, authors and participants for preparing a memorable event.
On the other hand we are sorry that you cannot experience Berlin personally. We would very much like to introduce you to the prospering city of Berlin and its great cultural life, as well as to the famous “Berlin air”. Please do not forget to visit Berlin later to see a city state of the art with numerous highlights. Berlin is worth it!
And now we wish everyone a successful first digital IFAC World Congress – the first digital world championships in the science of control and automation.
VDI/VDE Society for Measurement and Automatic Control
VDI Technology and Society