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Editor’s Note

Pages: pp. 3-5

I first encountered TPAMI as an undergraduate, in the Engineering Library at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. I had a problem; I hoped that finding the right journal article would solve it; and I was wrong. I didn’t understand the journal article, and so it didn’t solve my problem, but that was alright because I had the wrong problem in the first place. So TPAMI introduced me to what became the dominant experience of my professional life: being puzzled by problems, and by what other people write about them.

I am honored to have been selected as Editor in Chief. I feel particularly fortunate to become editor now, when the machinery of the journal is running so smoothly and efficiently. I was able to get away with not understanding a TPAMI paper (or, quite likely, any TPAMI paper) all those years ago. I don’t believe that an ambitious young researcher could do so now. The journal is the flagship publication of a discipline of exceptional strength, scope, and impact; and our discipline continues to grow in influence, perhaps because so many people have pictures and want to do things with them.

One factor that encouraged me to apply for this post was the impression I had, as an Associate Editor, that the Editor in Chief didn’t really have to do all that much. This impression isn’t completely inaccurate. The journal owes a very great deal to the tremendous efforts, skill, and professionalism of the Associate Editors in Chief, Sing-Bing Kang, Neil Lawrence, Jiri Matas, and Max Welling, and of the Associate Editors, who are too many to name. Before I applied, I spent some time chatting with Ramin Zabih, the Editor in Chief, and I managed to come away with the impression that it was all done by someone else. Once I was on the hook, Ramin allowed me to watch his TPAMI e-mail stream, and I now see how much hard work, dedication, and focus on the Editor in Chief’s part have gone into keeping the journal in its current excellent state.

Jiri Matas has served two terms as Associate Editor in Chief, and the rules require he leave the role. His contribution to the smooth running of the journal has been spectacular. I know our community understands and appreciates the work that Jiri has done because I have seen the looks of horror that cross the faces of people I’ve asked to consider taking up his job. As of writing, I cannot announce the name of a new AEIC, but I expect to do so shortly.

It is usual at this point for a new Editor in Chief to describe challenges facing the journal. I see three. First, TPAMI must continue to engage the “Open Access” movement, which seeks free public access to government funded research. I stand with Ramin:s words in his introductory editorial: “This movement has been embraced by several top-flight journals and has also found substantial support at leading universities. Like most academics, I am extremely sympathetic to the goals of the open access movement. Yet it would be irresponsible to ignore the challenges that open access poses to the financial model that supports IEEE journals such as TPAMI. I believe that TPAMI can play a leadership role as this issue plays out, due to its large and technically sophisticated audience and its long-standing reputation for excellence, as well as IEEE’s nonprofit nature.”And I stand with Ramin’s words in his valedictory editorial: “while recent moves by the IEEE Computer Society are a substantial step in the right direction, a large gap remains between what TPAMI offers to authors and what, for example, is available from the leading machine learning journal JMLR.” I shall seek to continue Ramin’s good work by shrinking this gap further.

Second, our discipline is one of staggering breadth, and this is reflected in the range of topics that appears in TPAMI. This journal has papers with substantial content from, or implications for, topics such as: machine learning, optimization, human-computer interfaces, computer graphics, biometrics, remote sensing, and others. The difficulty in managing this breadth is to ensure that this content is excellent, whatever it covers. Doing so makes demands on the skills of the AEICs and the AEs. To date, I believe TPAMI has performed very well at this task, and I hope to keep up this record. There have been two important mechanisms. First, AEICs use their skill and judgement to desk-reject papers that are out of scope or will not meet the journal’s standards of excellence. While occasional controversies result, I believe that this function is important. By rejecting papers early, AEICs ensure that the energy of the referees is spent on papers that could reasonably be expected to appear in TPAMI. Second, TPAMI has a large pool of AEs covering a wide range of topics. Nonetheless, I expect to see a rise in the number of AEs as the range of important topics grows.

Third, as TPAMI is fully sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, the Editor in Chief reports to the Computer Society’s volunteer leadership, and is formally appointed the Computer Society president. This creates a situation where a dispute between the EIC of TPAMI and the IEEE would be resolved by people who may not be steeped in our discipline. Since TPAMI and the PAMI-TC represent the same research community, traditionally the Editor in Chief reports on the state of the journal at the PAMI-TC meetings held at CVPR and at ICCV. These meetings, which are open to all, constitute the only existing mechanism to collect a fair sample of the community’s opinion. At CVPR 2012, the PAMI-TC meeting passed the following motion:

“The current and incoming TPAMI EIC are instructed to negotiate a change in TPAMI’s reporting structure so that the EIC is responsible to a steering committee rather than the Computer Society. At most half of the steering committee should be appointed by the Computer Society, with the remainder coming from past TPAMI EICs, associate EICs, or members of the community. The steering committee would be responsible for supervising all personnel matters at TPAMI, including the appointment and reappointment of the EIC. A progress report on this change in structure will be presented at CVPR13.”

While TPAMI has an advisory board, who are named and thanked in Ramin’s editorial, this change would involve a new role for the board. Our community supports this idea and I shall seek to make it a reality.

David A. Forsyth

Incoming Editor in Chief

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