By Burkhard Stiller, IFIP TC6 Chair, University of Zürich UZH, Switzerland

The TC6 50th Anniversary meeting was collocated with IFIP Networking 2023 at the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC) premises in Barcelona, Spain and happened on the afternoon of 12th June, 2023. 

TC6, the Technical Committee 6 on “Communication Systems” is one of the largest TCs within IFIP in terms of activities and revenues and has currently eight active Working Groups (WG). These cover with WG6.1 on “Architectures and Protocols for Distributed Systems”, WG6.2 on “Network and Internetwork Architectures”, WG6.3 on “Performance of Communication Systems”, WG6.6 “Management of Networks and Distributed Systems”, WG6.8 on “Mobile and Wireless Communications”, WG6.10 on “Photonic Networking”, WG6.11 on “Communication Aspects of the E-World”, and WG6.12 on “Services-Oriented Systems” a major range of communication-related fields. It is important to note that WG6.12 is “co-hosted” by TC2 and TC8 besides TC6 – the only WG within IFIP at that broad standing by three technical committees. 

With these WGs at hand, the set of IFIP TC6 Events includes for example IFIP Networking (the TC6 Flagship conference), a series of federated conferences named DisCoTec, Middleware, Annual Conference on Wireless On-demand Network Systems and Services (WONS), Conference of Network and Service Management (CNSM), Network and Operations Management Symposium (NOMS), and Optical Networking Design and Modeling (ONDM), International Conference on Performance Evaluation and Modeling in Wired and Wireless Networks (PEMWN), and Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society (I3E). 

At the time, when TC6 was founded in 1972, one delegate per national society had been allowed to be member. With the formal requirement to run two meetings per year (in theory!), a certain minimal interaction level had been instantiated. However, it was soon the case that besides the TC6 meetings, their supported events and conferences established a major basis for technical discussions, research and development exchanges, and the building up of human networks. As soon as the number of events grew certain administrative steps had to be added, ensuring that WG chairs as well as the co-chairs and partially secretaries helped the TC6 chair to endorse the right events, especially driven by the key parameter: quality comes first! That was as well a reason to add to the TC level, besides the TC6 chairperson, sometimes an additional co-chair and even a treasurer. Without any claim of completeness here, many high-profile communication experts did serve as the TC6 chairs during the past. Those include in the more recent past in an arbitrary order, but not limited to, Prof. Dr. Ronald P. Uhlig, Prof. Dr. Augusto Casaca, Prof. Dr. André Danthine, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Otto Spaniol, Prof. Dr. Guy Leduc, and Prof. Dr. Aiko Pras.

The international perspective of IFIP TC6 is visible in two independent lines of events as well: First the location of TC6 meetings, which included (sometimes multiple times) over the past 15 years Borovetz, Salvador de Bahia, Samos, Aachen, Paris, Chennai, Lisbon, Valencia, Prague, Pisa, Ghent, Zürich, Trondheim, Dagstuhl, Toulouse, Barcelona, Vienna, Stockholm, Hamburg, Warsaw, and “on-line” settings due to the Corona pandemic, especially in the years of 2020 to 2022. And secondly, the location of the TC6 Flagship event, the IFIP Networking Conference, which was founded in 2020 in Paris and continued to its current 22nd instance in Barcelona 2023 so far, visiting before Pisa, Athens, Waterloo, Coimbra, Atlanta, Singapore, Aachen, Chennai, Valencia, Prague, New York, Trondheim, Toulouse, Vienna, Stockholm, Zürich, Warsaw, on-line organizations from Paris and Espoo, and a hybrid instance in Catania.

Caption: TC6 Attendees at the Barcelona Anniversary TC6 Meeting in June 2023

For the anniversary’s program, TC6 organized a special technical afternoon session, in which the current TC6 chair, Prof. Dr. Burkhard Stiller introduced and concluded this anniversary, and moderated four technical talks of high relevance and quality for TC6 as a whole. The first talk by Dr. Diego Perino, Tech Lead and Scientist, Spain on “Artificial Intelligence and Decentralized Privacy Preserving Mechanisms for “Future” Networks” outlined the fundamental aspects research has to answer if Machine Learning (ML) becomes successful: Which ML task do you try to solve? How to measure success? In that sense, research and innovation experiences on the interaction of AI and networks were presented and enriched with an overview of several use cases including fixed and mobile networks, platforms and the digital twin. The second talk of Prof. Dr. Edmundo Monteiro, University of Coimbra, Portugal on “What is still to be done after 50 years of research on networking?” took a tour through pros and cons as well as success and failures of communication-related ideas, developments, and systems over 50 years. It extrapolated from these lessons learned to identify new scientific challenges and research directions in the field of networking and communication systems. After the coffee break Dr. Nicolas Kourtellis, Telefonica I+D, Spain, presented “Powering the Next Generation Networks with Privacy-Preserving Artificial Intelligence”, which discussed how the big(ger) pressure on networking and processing needs to be tackled by balancing the entire ecosystem with conflicting goals, such that 5G/6G, big data, and infrastructure to interoperate via the proposed approach on privacy-preserving AI and networks. Lastly, Prof. Dr. Gonzalo Seco-Granados, Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona, Spain introduced in an overview the “Revolutionizing Localization: The Advancements Enabled by 5G and 6G Technologies”, which addressed the analysis of specificities of 5G localization beyond legacy cellular localization solutions and how the presence of passive and hybrid reconfigurable intelligent surfaces can be exploited for localization and sensing when they operate in the near and far fields.                        

On behalf of the TC6 officers and national representatives on-site, the first in-person meeting for TC6 after 2019, it is the current TC6 chair’s pleasure and duty to thank all current TC6 officers and national representatives, on-site and excused, but in operation, wherever they may have had to be on that wonderful afternoon in Barcelona. Additionally, these thanks are extended to all past TC6 chairs, who served IFIP and TC6 with their dedication and time, as well as to all past TC6 Work Group chairs, co-chairs, and secretaries, who acted in their dedicated field of expertise as meeting and event managers, integrators, and colleagues. Finally, TC6 is indebted to all individual Work Group members, who run events, who participate in events, who write and submit papers, who present and discuss their work, and who make IFIP TC6 alive as it should be successfully running for the next decades to come. 

Details on TC6 are available here. You can also review current and past information on the IFIP Networking conference series.

Caption: Attendees of the TC6 50th Anniversary Meeting in Barcelona