April 2019 From the IFAC President

IFAC Journals - Interview with JSC EiC Bob Bitmead

Dear IFAC Friends and Colleagues,

IFAC’s youngest one is just about two years old
by now. That’s certainly quite a gap to its seven
older siblings. I am of course talking about the
newest addition to the IFAC Journal collection:
IFAC  Journal  of  Systems  and  Control.  After
about  two  years,  I  wanted  to  know  how  our
newest addition is doing, and I had the chance
to question the Editor in Chief, Bob Bitmead.
You might know Bob from conferences, where
he often wears a deep red hat when he seeks
to be found. A concept he implemented after
a first test at the IFAC World Congress in Mu-
nich in 1987. No wonder, hence, that the new
Journal  has  this  distinct  red  color  (which  you
can see in the picture with the overview of IFAC
Journals). To quote Bob on the question who
chose the red color: “I suppose the result is not
so much that I had a say in this but that I in-
sisted”. But now back to the Journal:
Frank  Allgöwer:  Bob,  you’re  the  first  Editor-
in-Chief of the Journal, raising and fostering it
from the very beginning. So, how is your ‘baby’

Bob  Bitmead:  The  “baby”  is  doing  well  and
growing strongly but is still not sleeping at night
and making an occasional mess. We have delib-
erately chosen a path to establishing the Jour-
nal as a place of high repute and good read-
ership. By focusing on the readership first, we
have been quite selective and put good effort
into identifying the best papers and into trying
to improve them during the revision and edit-
ing phase. This is a labor-intensive process but
reflects in the papers appearing in the Journal.
Frank Allgöwer: Tell me, why should I choose to
submit my latest research results in the Journal
of Systems and Control and not to any of the
other IFAC journals?

Bob Bitmead: The Journal has a scope which is
as broad as IFAC’s. Indeed, it was established
to provide the coverage that the other journals
in the IFAC stable — turning from baby to horse
analogies  —  could  struggle  with.  The  papers
that we accept are quite broad and frequently
describe integrative aspects of control, where
the  methodology  needs  to  accommodate  the
application  domain.  In  the  most  recent  edi-
tion,  there  is  a  paper  dealing  with  ecosystem
analysis  and  its  application  for  maize  produc-
tion. Papers in medical applications and envi-
ronmental systems also have appeared. When
these  broad  application  domains  are  coupled
with the underlying control theory, we see new
possibilities emerge.

So, we are very interested in the latest innova-
tive research. If your latest results fit this mould
then we would be eager to see your paper and,
assuming it fits, it would benefit from associa-
tion with this different wide-ranging type of re-
search and application.
FA: Are there - apart from quality - any restric-
tions on the content of potential articles?

Bob: Clearly relevance is critical and should be
included  under  the  umbrella  of  quality.  In  the
scope of the Journal, I was careful to articulate
its reliance on papers providing “generalizable,
extensible and transferable innovations” in con-
trol theory and applications.
Frank Allgöwer: Well, this certainly sounds very
interesting.  I  will  keep  following  the  Journal
with its broad spectrum of topics, looking for
high quality papers in different fields, curiously
waiting what the next interesting article I stum-
ble upon in JSC is about. And thanks, Bob, for
your answers, and your overall commitment to

With best regards from Stuttgart,
Frank Allgöwer