ALP History

The ALP was founded in 1986 at the 3rd ICLP conference, held at Imperial College. One of its main purposes was to oversee the profits of the London meeting and to organise future meetings of ICLP. However, it was also sparked by the appearance of another logic programming group in North America. This group, which organised the IEEE Symposium on Logic Programming (SLP) at Atlantic City in 1984 and Boston in 1985, was formed in response to the Japanese Fifth Generation Computer Systems Project.

The announcement of the FGCS Project in 1981 triggered reactions all over the world. It gave rise to the Alvey Programme in the UK, to the joint research institute ECRC in Munich and to a similar institute MCC in Austin Texas. It may even have been one of the main triggers for the European Union research programme, ESPRIT.

Logic Programming was virtually unknown in mainstream Computing at the time, and most of its research activity was in Europe. So it came as a big shock – nowhere more so than in North America – when it eventually became obvious that logic programming was to play a central, unifying role in the FGCS Project.

There had already been a number of workshops, most notably at Imperial College in 1976, Debrecen Hungary in 1980, Syracuse University and Los Angeles in 1981. But the FGCS Project prompted a change of gear. The First International Conference on Logic Programming was held in Marseille in 1982, followed by the Second ICLP in Uppsala in 1984. So the Third ICLP in London presented the first opportunity for the mainly European research community in logic programming to address the challenge of its North American rival, SLP.

The main organisers of the SLP at that time were unknown to the logic programming research community, and did not include the few logic programmers working in North America, most notably at Syracuse University and the University of Waterloo. So the purpose of the foundation of ALP was, not only to promote logic programming, but also to safeguard its identity.

Following the formation of ALP, with Keith Clark as its first President, discussions were held with the SLP group, which by this time included a number of distinguished logic programmers. The discussions focussed at first simply on co-ordinating the SLP and ICLP conferences, and later on bringing the SLP under ALP auspices. The first Joint ICLP and SLP, which resulted from these discussions and marked the beginning of cooperation, was held in Seattle in 1988. By this time, the truly international character of ALP had been firmly established, with the first meeting of ICLP outside of Europe, at Melbourne in 1987.

The main activity of the ALP has been the organisation of its conferences, primarily ICLP and NACLP, the North American Conference on Logic Programming, which took over from SLP. In addition, a number of national and regional logic programming organisations, in North America, Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, affiliated with the ALP and organised their own meetings under ALP auspices.

The ALP also published its own newsletter. The founding editor, Luis Pereira in Lisbon, invented the logo, for the newsletter, which later became the logo of the ALP as a whole. Luis was followed as editor by Chris Moss and then Andrew Davison at Imperial College. It became an electronic newsletter when the editorship passed to Sandro Etalle at the University of Twente and then Enrico Pontelli at New Mexico State University.

Not all logic programming related activities since the founding of the ALP have been carried out under its auspices. Among the most notable of these were the series of Prolog Application Conferences initiated by Al Roth in the UK, the similar series of conferences organised by IF-Prolog in Japan, the logic programming conferences in Japan, the European Community Compulog Network of Excellence, and Compulog North America, and more recently the annual Symposium on Practical Aspects of Declarative Languages (PADL).

The Journal of Logic Programming (JLP), which was founded by Alan Robinson and published by Elsevier Science, was set up independently of ALP before its foundation. It was eventually adopted as the official journal of the ALP. During the term of Krzysztof Apt as president and Maurice Bruynooghe as the Editor-in-Chief, Jack Minker was asked to negotiate with Elsevier Press a lower price of library subscriptions. After 16 months of unsuccessful negotiations the complete Editorial Board of the JLP collectively resigned and founded a new journal, Theory and Practice of Logic Programming (TPLP) with Cambridge University Press, that picks up the JLP tradition. Elsevier stopped publishing JLP and started a completely different journal, the Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming. Jack Minker served as Founding Editor in Chief of TPLP during the first year, until Maurice Bruynooghe’s obligations with Elsevier ended. TPLP is substantially less expensive than JLP and is now the official journal of the ALP. In June 2000 the Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics Division of the Special Libraries Association gave an award to Maurice Bruynooghe, for his leadership as Editor-in-Chief of JLP and TPLP, and the decisions that achieved the move from JLP to TPLP.

These activities were overseen by a succession of Presidents, supported by an Executive Committee: Keith Clark at Imperial College from 1986 to 1990, Herve’ Gallaire at ECRC from 1990 to 1993, David Scott Warren at Stony Brook from 1993 to 1997, Krzysztof Apt at CWI in Amsterdam from 1997 to 2001, and Veronica Dahl at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver from 2002 to the present.

For many years, the ALP was administered at Imperial College in London. Bob Kowalski was the Secretary, and Frank McCabe, Fariba Sadri and Francesca Toni were the successive Treasurers. Cheryl Anderson-Deakon was the Administrative Secretary. This arrangement changed in the late 90s, when the administration became distributed. David Scott Warren in Stony Brook became the Secretary-Director, and Pat Hill in Leeds became the Treasurer.

Robert A. Kowalski October 2004