by Ernst Schwarz on behalf of GI
Mission and aims of GI
The official name of the German Informatics Society is "Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V." or in brief "GI". The association was founded 1969 in Bonn in order to promote informatics in research and education, including continued education, and its applications. The 18 300 Individual and more than 300 corporate members are coming from informatics research, education, industry and applications and comprise also about 3 000 students of informatics.
The structure of GI
The bodies of the GI are the General Assembly of Members, the Executive Committee and the Committee. The Executive Committee consists of the President, two Vice-Presidents and the Treasurer. The Committee of GI consists of the Executive Committee and a maximum of twelve further members. The members of the Executive Committee are elected for two, those of the Committee for three years by mail ballot. Every year some of the members leave the Committee in the order of their entry and newly elected members are substituted for them.
During the election period 1996/97 the members of the Executive Committee are:
President: Prof. Dr. Wolffried Stucky Vice-President: Prof. Dr. Ernst Denert Vice-President: Prof. Dr. Heinrich C. Mayr Treasurer: Prof. Dr. Rainer Busch
The Directors of GI are:
Dr. Michael Laska
Dr. Hermann Rampacher
The General Assembly takes place annually. Among its duties are the establishment of proposals for the annual elections, election of auditors, discharge of the executive committee and fixing of annual membership fee.
Scientific work within GI is conducted by more than 200 Expert Committees, Special Interest Groups (SIG) and Working Groups (WG). These Committees and Groups are combined into nine Divisions. The grouping of Divisions (Fachbereiche - FB) and Expert Committees (Fachausschüsse - FA) is as follows:
FB 0 Grundlagen der Informatik (Foundations of Informatics)
FB 1 Künstliche Intelligenz (Artificial Intelligence)
FB 2 Softwaretechnologie und Informationssysteme
(Software Technology and Information Systems)
FB 3 Technische Informatik und Architektur von Rechensystemen
(Technical Informatics and Computer Architecture)
FB 4 Informationstechnik und Technische Nutzung der Informatik
(Information Technology and Technological Applications)
FB 5 Wirtschaftsinformatik (Business Informatics)
FB 6 Informatik in Recht und oeffentlicher Verwaltung
(Informatics in Law and Public Administration)
FB 7 Ausbildung und Beruf (Education and Profession)
FB 8 Informatik und Gesellschaft (Informatics and Society)
Besides this "scientific" structure, GI has 27 Regional Groups. The aim of these groups is to provide possibilities for professional education and exchange of experience on a local base. They also help users, developers and researchers located in the regions to a better communication and thus foster the discussion of results between researchers and users, leading to quicker implementations. Vice versa the researchers receive the requirements for applications.
GI has about 40 periodically issued publications, covering the whole range of informatics and its applications. Most important is the scientific journal "Informatik Spektrum", the official publication of GI, published bimonthly by the Springer Verlag Heidelberg with W. Brauer as editor-in-chief since its foundation. It contains overviews and introductory articles about informatic related subjects, case studies, GI news and a calendar of events. Most of the nine GI divisions have in addition their own journals.
Brief History of GI
When the GI was founded on September 16, 1969, there were 26 members. It took 6 years, until 1975, to reach the first thousand. The second thousand was completed in 1979, already after four years. Since 1978 the number of GI members increased very steeply. At the GI Congress 1986 the 10 000th member could be welcomed and three years later GI had already 15 000 members. GI exceeded the margin of 18 000 in the first half of 1995 being one of the largest professional societies in Germany.
Since its foundation the GI has been mainly a scientific society, conducting scientific events and issuing scientific publications in order to facilitate communication amongst researchers and users in the area of informatics. In the middle of the seventies GI had already expert committees and special interest groups covering all relevant areas of informatics. That was the time, when GI moved from a society of scientists and researchers to a society of all informaticians. In 1978 the Informatik-Spektrum was created with the aim to improve the continued education of informatics professionals.
Very important steps in the development of GI were the foundation of the "Deutsche Informatik Akademie" (DIA) in 1987 and the International Conference and Research Center for Computer Science (IBFI) in 1990. Both will be described in some detail later on.
In 1995 GI introduced new statutes due to the fact that GI should cover not only scientific interests but also behave as professional informatics society.
Before GI was founded, Germany was represented in IFIP by DARA (Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rechenanlagen), made up by four German societies. In 1983 GI took over this responsibility which led to the creation of the IFIP Council consisting of up to 16 members (representatives), presently coming from the following societies: GI (8), ITG - Informationstechnische Gesellschaft (3), GAMM - Gesellschaft für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik (2), DPG - Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (1), GMDS - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (1) und GME - Gesellschaft für Mikroelektronik (1).
GI is represented in all eleven Technical Committees of IFIP and was always very active in the preparation of IFIP congresses. It should be mentioned that Germany hosted the IFIP Congress 1962. At that time GI didn't exist, but quite a number of people who founded the GI later on participated in that congress and helped to organize it. W. Brauer was the first German to be Program Committee Chairman for an IFIP Congress, namely that of 1992 in Madrid. GI is very proud of the honor to have been host of the IFIP World Congress 1994 in Hamburg where GI celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Since 1989 GI is also member of the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) where it is also active in some of the international Task Forces.
Current Projects of GI
GI has conducted or supported more than forty scientific congresses, workshops and events in 1995. Most important was the yearly scientific congress which has been jointly held and organized with the Swiss Informatics Society (SI) from September 18 to 20, 1995, in Zurich.
GI initiated a project in the area of specialized information systems which will be supported by the Federal Ministry for Science, Education, Research and Technology. The project will promote the direct access of endusers including students to literature-, SW- and multimedia-databases. GI is cooperating with many universities, publishers and the Special Information Center Karlsruhe.
The Deutsche Informatik Akademie GmbH (DIA), located in Bonn, initiated and mainly supported by GI, offers a high level program of continued education in informatics. The DIA offers courses and seminars with major innovative potential to informatics professionals in national and international framework.
The International Conference and Research Center for Computer Science (IBFI) in Dagstuhl Castle is jointly supported by GI and several universities. Financial support comes from the Saarland and Rheinland-Palatinate. According to its goals IBFI offers seminars concerning research in computer science of international level, advanced education with high standards and stimulates the exchange of knowledge between research and practice. Several IFIP Working Groups have already used IBFI for meetings or workshops.
GI is one of the main supporters of the "Bundeswettbewerb Informatik", a yearly school students contest in informatics, which is supported by the Federal Ministry for Science, Education, Research and Technology, well accepted by the Federal Conference of States Ministries for Education and under the patronage of the Federal President. The contest was started in 1980 by V. Claus following a suggestion of the organizers of the IFIP WCCE 1981 in Lausanne to invite winners of national contests to WCCE '81.
GI has a seat in the council of the Werner-von-Siemens-Ring foundation and is member in the "Deutscher Verband Technisch- Wissenschaftlicher Vereine" (DVT), which comprises all technological associations in Germany.
GI awards every two years the Konrad-Zuse-Medal for outstanding contributions in Computer Science. Its name comes from the famous German computer inventor Konrad Zuse, who was honorary member of GI.
Future Development of GI
As mentioned, the GI has been founded 1969 as a scientific society. In the meantime most of the GI members are working in industry. This means that GI must address all professionals working with informatics not only those with scientific interests. This trend goes back to 1978, when the Informatik- Spektrum was created, increased more and more and was expressed explicitly in 1990 with the 20th Annual Congress of GI with the main topic "Informatics on its Way to the User".
1991 started the work to develop the aims and the structures of GI towards the new direction. This led to a major revision of the statutes which have been approved in the meantime by the GI Committee, by the General Assembly and by the majority of the GI members. This will be the instrument to cope with the future development of informatics and lead to continued growth of the GI.
Additional Information about GI can be found in the following articles:
1) U. Brauer, W. Brauer: 25 Jahre GI.-
Informatik-Spektrum, Band 17, Heft 4, August 1994, pp. 209 - 221 (in German Language)
2) W. Brauer: Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI): The West German Association for Informatics - Some information and remarks.- ATCS Bulletin No 16, Febr. 1982, pp. 80 - 87 (in English).