Automatica, January 2004, Volume 40, No. 1


A Smooth Transition: Moving Forward, Looking Forward

With this issue, Automatica is entering its 40th year of publication, and its 35th year as an IFAC journal. It is also making a transition of Editor-in-Chiefs, only the second time in its history. The first transition took place exactly ten years ago, from George Axelby to Huibert Kwakernaak, as recorded in the January 1994 (Vol. 30, No.1) issue of Automatica. The state of the journal at the time, and the path it followed to reach that point have been beautifully described in the recent editorial by George Axelby, which appeared in the December 2003 (Vol. 39, No. 12) issue of Automatica.

Automatica remains today a leading archival publication in the field of automatic control which encompasses now a much broader set of areas and topics than it did forty, or even twenty years ago. Automatica has kept abreast with this evolution and broadening of the field over the years, and has in fact been one of the leading publications to drive the trends in the field. This was possible because of the foresight and vision of its two previous Editor-in-Chiefs, George Axelby and Huibert Kwakernaak, and its dynamic and forward-looking editorial board. Huibert also deserves major credit for putting Automatica much ahead of the pack in making prompt and maximum use of the opportunities offered by the current information technology, and Internet in particular, in creating a unique review management system − PAMPUS.

PAMPUS, named after a shallow in the former inland sea Zuiderzee in The Netherlands, was first introduced to the readership in an editorial in September 2001 (Vol. 37, No. 9). Since then it has been fine-tuned and perfected, so that it is now the engine driving our entire paper/review management process in Automatica. All submissions are made electronically through this web-based system (, and all correspondence with authors is also done through this system. It also facilitates immensely the paper review process which is carried out entirely on PAMPUS. And in all these domains, PAMPUS will continue to be the engine driving our operation in 2004 and beyond.

Partly also due to PAMPUS, the transition from the 39th year of Automatica to its 40th (and beyond) will be seamless. For both the reader and the prospective author there will be no noticeable changes. The journal will continue to be a dynamic and forward-looking archival publication in the field of automatic control, interpreted in a broad sense. The field is lively, with new and exciting research exploring new frontiers, and Automatica will continue to be open minded in responding to these changing dynamics through flexibility but without compromising quality. It will maintain a balance between theory and applications, and continue to publish top-quality papers of archival, lasting value, reporting cutting edge research results, by authors across the globe. It will continue to feature articles in distinct categories, including regular, brief, survey, and position papers, technical communiqués (as rapid publications), correspondence items, as well as reviews on published books and new software of interest to the readership. It will maintain its monthly publication format, with a page budget of 2300 for this year. Having essentially no backlog makes it feasible for even regular or brief papers to appear within a year of their submission dates.

On the operational side, the structure of the editorial board will remain the same, with the editorial areas also remaining intact, with only the scope of one modified and expanded (see the next editorial in this issue, which also introduces two new editors). We have in place editorial procedures to assure careful, fair, and prompt handling of all submitted articles, and a process to attract submissions on emerging topics in the field of automatic control and also from IFAC scientific meetings.

This inaugural editorial as Editor-in-Chief also gives me the pleasant opportunity to thank my predecessor, Huibert Kwakernaak, and recognize his dedicated service to Automatica in various capacities − Associate Editor, Editor, and for the last ten years as Editor-in-Chief-spanning a period almost as long as the history of the journal itself. As indicated in the inside cover of this issue, Huibert now holds the title of Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, also being held by George Axelby since 1994.

The field of automatic control is thriving, not only within itself but also in terms of its impact on other fields, such as communications, computers, biology, and economics, to list just a few. Automatica is poised to be at the forefront of publishing high-quality articles on these exciting developments as well, and attracting readership also from other fields who are becoming heavy users of control theory, methodology and tools. Recognizing that there is always room for improvement, I would welcome comments, questions, and suggestions from the readership as well as from prospective authors on any aspect of Automatica. Contact information can be found on the inside front cover of the journal as well as on PAMPUS.

Tamer Basar