Overview of IFAC

PDF: Introduction slides about IFAC

Founded in Paris in 1957, IFAC is the worldwide organization tasked with promoting the science and technology of automatic control in all systems, whether for example, engineering, physical, biological, social or economic, in both theory and application. IFAC is also concerned with the impact of control technology on society.

IFAC’s greatest strength is in its people and the volunteers who devote so much of their time to make IFAC function as well as it does. Maintaining the highest technical level of scientific excellence is a major concern for IFAC. This is achieved through the technical excellence of our conferences, publications and technical committees, and excellence in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of our secretariat and administrative systems and processes.

The IFAC World Congress is the largest and most significant gathering of its kind, attracting thousands of attendees and showcasing the latest advances in control technologies. The next triennial IFAC World Congress will be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from August 23 to 28, 2026, marking the 23rd edition of this series. Busan, a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, offers attendees the opportunity to explore one of the most innovative cities globally. The city's stunning landscapes, including beautiful beaches and mountains near the conference venue, will serve as a wellspring of inspiration. The Busan Congress promises a fresh experience for both first-time visitors to Korea and those who attended the previous IFAC World Congress held in Seoul in 2008. By participating in this conference, you will gain a unique experience and contribute to the global exchange of knowledge.


The membership of IFAC consists of National Member Organizations (NMOs) who are responsible for furthering the aims and objectives of IFAC within their respective countries. IFAC provides NMOs with full international participation, whilst at the same time preserving local customs in the development of their activities.

Individuals can participate in IFAC in many ways: as Affiliates who receive the Newsletter; as Technical Committee Members through nomination either by the NMO or by the Technical Committee Chair; as members of the International Program Committees of IFAC conferences; as authors of papers for IFAC events; as Executive Committee Members; as attendees of IFAC events; as authors, reviewers, and editors of the IFAC journals; and, ultimately as officials of IFAC.


Promotion of the science and technology of automatic control and all of its technical, educational and social implications is of paramount importance for IFAC. This is achieved mainly by organizing and sponsoring technical meetings, and through technical publications. IFAC organizes about 40 high-quality technical meetings per year, whose scheduling, scope, and ways of participation can be accessed through our webpage. Technical meetings are proposed by NMOs, sponsored by one or more of the 39 IFAC Technical Committees, and reviewed by the IFAC Technical Board. Every third year, IFAC organizes a World Congress. Papers presented at IFAC technical meetings are published, in partnership with Elsevier (official IFAC publisher), on IFAC-PapersOnLine, at no cost to the event organizers. Papers archived in this form can be viewed and downloaded at no cost, and can be cited using the Journal ISSN, and the individual paper DOI (digital object identifier). The IFAC-PapersOnLine series has the following main features:

  • Diamond Open Access – free of charge both for authors and readers.
  • Papers are published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND license, and can be shared in many flexible ways.
  • Copyright belongs to the authors, while IFAC gets exclusive publication rights.


A fundamental role in the dissemination of automatic control science and technology is also achieved by IFAC through the editorship of eight prestigious archival journals: Automatica, Control Engineering Practice, Annual Reviews of Control, Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Journal of Process Control, Mechatronics, Nonlinear Analysis: Hybrid Systems, and IFAC Journal of Systems and Control, which are known as IFAC Journals and published in partnership with the official IFAC publisher, Elsevier.


Extraordinary contributions to automatic control science and technology are acknowledged by IFAC in various ways. Lifetime contributions, with either a theoretical or practical emphasis, are honoured by means of the Giorgio Quazza and Nathaniel Nichols medals, awarded every third year. The High Impact Paper award acknowledges the impact of a paper published in any of the official IFAC journals. The Industrial Achievement award is presented to an individual, or a team of individuals, who has made a significant contribution to industrial applications of control. The Manfred Thoma Medal recognizes outstanding contributions of a young researcher and/or engineer under the age of 40 to the field of systems and control in its widest sense Distinguished individuals may be honored by the Council as IFAC Fellows. This recognition is given triennially to a limited number of individuals who have made outstanding and extraordinary contributions in the fields of interest of IFAC as engineers/scientists, technical leaders or educators. The relevance of education is emphasized through the Harold Chestnut Control Engineering Textbook Prize. At the time of the triennial World Congress, the best research articles published in each IFAC journal, with the exception of Annual Reviews of Control, are acknowledged and awarded. The best papers presented at the Congress in the area of applications, by a young author, or as an interactive paper, are also awarded. Long-term service to the Federation is recognized by the Outstanding Service Award, and by presidential appointment of a restricted number of individuals as IFAC Advisors.

Boards and Committees

IFAC’s executive organ is the IFAC Officers consisting of the IFAC President, the IFAC President-Elect, the immediate past President, and the Vice-Presidents.

The Technical Board, chaired by the Vice-President of Technical Activities/Technical Board Chair relies on the highly competent efforts of more than 2.000 volunteers, and is responsible for managing the technical activities of the Federation. Its main purpose is to manage the portfolio of IFAC technical meetings. In addition, the Technical Board advises the Council on all technical matters related to technical meetings, publications, and the technical contents of the Triennial Congress. It is also responsible for reviewing the technical activities of IFAC. The Publications Board, chaired by the Vice-President of Publications/ Publications Board Chair, coordinates and supervises the publication activities of IFAC, in accordance with guidelines laid down by the IFAC Council and will authorize expenditure on publications within strict budgetary limits approved by the Council. The Conference Board is chaired by the Vice-President of Conferences. The main duty of the Conference Board will be to consider symposia, conferences, workshops and other technical meetings as may be recommended to it by the Technical Committees and if it sees fit, arrange for their regulation and organization. It shall monitor IFAC technical meetings and advise their organizers. In addition, the Conference Board will advise the Council on all matters regarding technical meetings. It shall from time to time review the technical meetings of IFAC in the light of its aims and objectives and shall report to the Council each year.

Two additional IFAC Vice-Presidents are the Vice-President for Finances and the Vice-President for Operations. The Vice-President for Finances oversees and manages the financial assets of IFAC, as directed by the Executive Officers after approval of the IFAC Council. The Vice-President for Operations can be added each triennium to the Executive Officers by a vote of the IFAC Council.

Within IFAC there are several Executive Committees, which are each led by a dedicated chair. The Awards Committee, the Membership Committee, the Activity Fund Committee, the Distinguished Lecturer Program Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

The IFAC Council decides on most IFAC matters, having been empowered to do so by the General Assembly, which is composed of all NMOs. The IFAC Council interacts with the IFAC Executive Officers who conduct the day-to-day business of IFAC.