Başar elected to the Council of the International Federation of Automatic Control

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By Tom Moone, ECE ILLINOIS
January 9, 2012

  • ECE Professor Tamer Başar was elected to the council for the International Federation of Automatic Control.
  • He is elected to a three year term, and is the only U.S. member of the council.
  • The council has an important role in outlining future research areas in the field of control, as well as determining locations for its important international congress held every three years.

Tamer  Basar
Tamer Basar

Recently, ECE Professor Tamer Basar was elected to the IFAC Council. IFAC, the International Federation of Automatic Control, is the leading international body in the field of automatic control.

According to the federation’s website, the goals of IFAC are to “promote the science and technology of control in the broadest sense in all systems, whether, for example, engineering, physical, biological, social or economic, in both theory and application. IFAC is also concerned with the impact of control technology on society.”

IFAC was founded in 1957. Membership in IFAC is on the national level, meaning that each member nation has an organization that is its representative within IFAC. For the United States, that member organization is the American Automatic Control Council (AACC), which was also formed in 1957. “The American Automatic Control Council is still the main automatic control body in the United States, which has representatives from different societies covering control from different disciplines, and at this point there are eight such societies with IEEE being one of them,” said Başar, who has just completed his two-year presidency of AACC.

Every three years IFAC holds an international congress, which is the largest technical meeting in automatic control. In off-congress years IFAC also organizes various symposia and workshops on more targeted specialized areas. At the congress there are also various nontechnical meetings involving representatives from member countries, on topics like publications, conferences, scientific and engineering accomplishments, awards, and policy; also the general assembly comprised of delegates from member countries meets at the congress to discuss various issues on the future of IFAC and to conduct elections to various offices within IFAC.

Between the congresses, a council (made up of 12 elected members) works with the president on operations and vision for the organization. With 52 member nations within IFAC, membership on the council is an achievement that recognizes distinguished record of accomplishments in the area of automatic control.

Başar, a Swanlund Chair holder, was elected to the council for a three-year term, and is representing the United States. As Başar explained, “Election to the council is based on scientific merit as well as visibility within IFAC.”

One of the important tasks for the IFAC Council is deciding on the location of the next congress for which bids are being taken. “It’s quite competitive to host the congress,” said Başar, a researcher in the Coordinated Science Lab and a professor in the Center for Advanced Study. “Bids are submitted maybe six to nine years ahead of the date of congress.”

In this council’s case, they will be deciding on the 2020 congress.

For his part, Başar would like to see the 2020 congress to be hosted by the United States. “This would be the third one since IFAC’s inception. The two earlier ones were held in Boston in 1975, and San Francisco in 1996,” said Başar. To this end, a group from the United States hosted a reception at the IFAC congress held late last summer in Milan to promote the U.S. as a location for the 2020 congress.

In addition to deciding the location for the next uncommitted IFAC congress, the council provides direction for where IFAC should move in terms of research in control. “The organization has to be flexible enough to accommodate new emerging areas,” explained Başar. “Right now, one such area is the application of control in biology—the so-called systems biology. So there will now be more emphasis on creating study groups, or technical committees which will consist of people who are interested in research in that area, moving perhaps toward workshops or symposia in this emerging area.”

IFAC and AACC have been a natural fit for Başar’s interests. “My main interests have always been in control theory and its extensions and relationship with other fields like communications and economics,” he said.

Başar is the recipient of the Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award from AACC, the Quazza Medal from IFAC, the Bode Prize from IEEE Control Systems Society, the Isaacs award from the International Society of Dynamic Games, the Tau Beta Pi Daniel C. Drucker Eminent Faculty Award from the Illinois College of Engineering, and the Science Medal from the government of Turkey. He currently serves as editor in chief of the IFAC journal Automatica, and as editor of several book series. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the European Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of IFAC.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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