The work of IFIP Working Group 2.1 focuses on approaches to
system development that guarantee that the systems developed
are "correct by construction".
Usually, the source system is a formal specification, which is
transformed or refined to the target system by a sequence of
The target systems are primarily, but not necessarily,
They can be algorithms, distributed systems, protocols,
software architectures, hybrid systems, and so on.
We are interested in languages, formalisms, theories and
methods (including support tools) with a solid mathematical
underpinning that can help advance the state of the art.
In particular, we want to increase both the elegance
and the scope of our methods.
The meetings of the Working Group provide a medium for active
researchers in this area, from all over the world, for
"comparing notes", exchanging not only results but also new
problems or challenges in a concentrated yet highly informal
Next to the members, participation is only open to invited
Observers are selected on the basis of the perceived potential
relevance of their work to the concerns of the Working Group.
Contrary to what the term might suggest, observers are not
supposed to just sit in on the meetings and `observe'.
On the contrary, they are expected to participate actively in
discussions and presentations alike.
At scientific conferences, presentations are supposed to
present a finished and well-rounded result, with emphasis on
how this improves on older results, while studiously avoiding
In strong contrast, presentations at WG2.1 meetings are more
about "work in progress", and it is perfectly OK to present
half-baked or even raw ideas, provided that they are
Of course, a good talk on finished work that is in the heart
of the Working Group's concerns is also welcome.
But whether the topic of a presentation is a formalism, a
theorem, a new derivation or anything else, the technical
details and assumptions must be out in the open, with precise
definitions, so that all participants can follow and understand
After all, we are a group of active researchers, and how a
particular result was obtained, what reasoning led to a claim,
or what motivated an approach, is often as interesting to us
as the result, claim or approach itself.
In any case, it is a well-established fact that any statement,
term or symbol uttered by a speaker or shown on a slide at a
WG2.1 meeting, unless its meaning is crystal-clear, will prompt
some member to interrupt the speaker and ask for elucidation.
This behaviour, annoying as it may seem to the interruptee, is
surely informed by the interrupter's ardent desire to fully
understand and absorb the content of the talk.
(It has not been unheard of that a speaker needed a full half
hour just to proceed through the interruptions from the first
to the second slide.
Being precise—without being pedantic—can considerably speed
up a presentation for this Group.)
From time to time a talk may prompt an impromptu discussion
between the attendants, thus suspending the orderly progress of
the presentation. Generally the chair will allow this as long
as the discussion is germane to the higher purposes of the
Working Group, but cut it short when it threatens to become
repetitive or pointless.
Also very much unlike what is usual in scientific conferences,
there is no fixed duration for presentations; talks simply run
as long as they need and as long as there is sufficient
interest, whichever of the two is shortest.
The chair will cut off talks in which there is insufficient
interest, an event that may transpire after five hours or after
five minutes. Since the Rome meeting in 2012 we do try to
keep presenters to the time they propose, interruptions and
questions not counted.
Clearly, under such a regime there can be no fixed schedule for
At all times there is a tentative schedule, which is
continually subject to dynamic rescheduling.
To compound the complexity of the problem, the Working Group
welcomes impromptu presentations, usually of the nature of
presenting a solution to an open problem of a previous speaker,
or a substantive improvement on her or his approach.
The initial tentative schedule is drawn up using an interesting
procedure that we are continuing to evolve and refine, even
though it has no clearly defined effect on the actual
proceedings, as there is no guarantee that talks put on the
initial schedule will ever have a chance to actualize.
The meeting commences with each attendee introducing
themselves (name, affiliation, research interests), and,
optionally, a sales pitch of up to 10 minutes in length, of the
presentation(s) that person would be willing to give, together
with an estimate of how much time they require for the
full-length presentation(s). Alternatively, attendees might
consider 10 minutes sufficient to get their ideas, or problem they
want to discuss or work on, across, and leave it at this 10 minute
Once everyone has introduced themselves, and their potential
presentations (if any), the participants get to vote on which
presentations they wish to hear, and which they do not wish to
These lists are used to determine whether or not a presentation
should be included in the initial schedule, and how much time
is likely to be allowed to it.
This initial schedule is subject to revision as the meeting
Invited observers are exempted from the obligation to advertise
a talk: we will make sure all invited observers will get a chance
to present their work. Because of the rather dynamic schedule,
we expect observers to have their talks ready when they arrive.
Since the Ottawa meeting we set aside one or two sessions
in which groups of people can work together on problems. These
may be problems people propose to work on during the introductions,
problems that arose during a presentation, or anything else.
- 12 Oct 2012