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Report of the General Board on the reassignment of the Professorship of Communications and the establishment of a Professorship of Information Engineering

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. Following the appointment of Professor Ian Leslie to the Pro-Vice-Chancellorship (Research) for a period of three years from 1 January 2004, the General Board, on the recommendation of the Computer Science Syndicate, have agreed to appoint Professor Andrew Hopper as Head of the Computer Laboratory from 1 October 2004. Professor Hopper presently holds the Professorship of Communications which was established in the Department of Engineering by Grace 12 of 5 February 1997 to provide additional strength for communications engineering in the Department. At present Professor Hopper heads the Laboratory of Communications Engineering which is one of four laboratories within the Information Engineering Division (Division F) in the Department of Engineering. On the recommendation of the Computer Science Syndicate, the Council of the School of Technology, and the Faculty Board of Engineering, and with the concurrence of Professor Hopper, the General Board now recommend that the Professorship of Communications be reassigned to the Computer Laboratory from 1 October 2004. The full costs of the Professorship will be met from that date from funds available to the Computer Laboratory, underwritten by the Council of the School of Technology. It is expected that, in due course, the Laboratory of Communications Engineering will also transfer permanently from the Department of Engineering to the Computer Laboratory.

2. Since the establishment of the Professorship of Communications in 1997, the Department of Engineering's work in both Divisions B and F, in the general field of communications, has increased significantly and has been further strengthened through additional Professorial appointments. The Department is therefore expected to be able to maintain its present strength in this field and additional support will be available through the close interaction that is expected to be maintained with the Laboratory of Communications Engineering following its move to the Computer Laboratory. Having taken account of these factors, and in the context of the Department's strategic planning, the Faculty Board of Engineering have concluded that there would be greater advantage to the Department if the funds available to it following the reassignment of the Professorship of Communications were used to establish a Professorship in the field of cognitive systems engineering which is the subject of a recent forward-looking proposal from Division F.

3. Cognitive systems are natural or artificial information processing systems, including those responsible for perception, learning, reasoning, decision-making, communication, and action. Research in the field addresses the problem of designing highly usable, fully integrated computer-based information systems which exhibit cognitive qualities. Cognitive systems engineering depends therefore on a wide variety of disciplines and areas of expertise including machine learning; signal processing; large scale systems including intelligent networks and self-aware computing systems; decision support systems; advanced interface technologies such as speech, vision, and haptics; advanced sensors and data fusion; human factors and holistic design methods. This theme encompasses many of the research areas that fall both intellectually and pragmatically within Division F.

4. The General Board have accepted the Faculty Board's case that a senior appointment in cognitive systems is fundamental to the Department's research and teaching strategies for key future topics such as machine learning, large scale stochastic networks, human-computer interfaces, and sentient computing. The Board are assured that an appointment at this level will attract a strong field of well-qualified candidates.

5. The General Board accordingly propose that a Professorship of Information Engineering be established in the University from 1 October 2004 and assigned to the Department of Engineering. They have agreed to concur in the view of the Department that election to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors and that candidature should be open without limitation or preference to all persons whose work falls within the general field of the title of the office.

6. The General Board recommend:

I. That the Professorship of Communications held by Professor Andrew Hopper be reassigned from the Department of Engineering to the Computer Laboratory with effect from 1 October 2004.

II. That a Professorship of Information Engineering be established with effect from 1 October 2004, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Engineering.

16 June 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorN. O. A. BULLOCKD. W. B. MACDONALD
 SARAH AIREYH. A. CHASEMELVEENA MCKENDRICK
 JOHN BELLJESSICA CHILDSROGER PARKER
 TOM BLUNDELLM. J. DAUNTONKEITH PETERS
 WILLIAM BROWNPETER LANDSHOFFS. J. YOUNG

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Cambridge University Reporter 30 June 2004
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.