Since its inception in the early 70s, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has captured the imagination of many scientists in psychology, computer science, biology and engineering. The challenge of understanding human intelligence and capturing it in a machine-understandable format for automatic reproduction was taken very seriously resulting in ambitious research programmes all over the world. Yet, after this initial enthusiasm the large programmes that started mostly in the 1980s proved that the automatic reproduction of tasks we associate with human intelligence is a far from obvious enterprise. The 1990s and the third millennium have shown a much more cautious and realistic approach with research in grand schemes for reproducing general intelligence being replaced by more focused, task-oriented less ambitious projects.
Yet, at the same time the third millennium, with the ever increasing processing power of computers now becoming generally available, intelligent devices have become ambient thus giving a new élan in artificial intelligence research.
With the main overviews of AI research published in the early years of large-scale AI research (cf. the Handbook of AI by Barr, Feigenbaum and Cohen and the Readings in AI series by Webber and Nilsson, both published in the 80s) it was felt that there is a need for a new publication that would describe the state-of-the-art of the current generation of AI researchers, working in the many sub-fields AI research has branched out into.
Elsevier has, therefore, decided to start a handbook series in AI, called Foundations of Artificial Intelligence. This series will be produced in close collaboration with a few of the most outstanding AI researchers and consist of some 10 to 15 volumes, each treating a major sub-field of AI research. The series should become THE reference for AI scientists and students.
The series has an editorial committee which oversees the various volumes by inviting editors and authors and assuring coherence throughout the various volumes. The editorial committee consists of Prof. Kitano (Sony Corp., Japan), Prof. Hendler (University of Maryland, USA) and Prof. Nebel (Universität of Freiburg, Germany). Elsevier plans to publish some 2 new volumes yearly, with each volume having 2 or 3 dedicated volume editors who will set up the volume and invite authors and review the articles. The volume editors will be invited by the series editors.
The handbook series aims at AI specialists who either wish to have a comprehensive and authoritive overview of their own subject field or of a neighbouring field. Level of expertise is 'Master-plus': experts having at least a master-level in one of the sub-fields, including:
• Academic and industry professionals.
• Teaching staff at universities.
• PhD students.
The first volume of the series will be Temporal Reasoning in Artificial Intelligence, edited by M. Fisher, D. Gabbay and M. Villa, to be published by mid-2004. Other planned volumes include Knowledge Representation, Autonomous systems and Robots, Learning and Vision and Spatial Reasoning.