Engineering Solutions for Real-Life Problems: Moonis Ali on Applied Intelligence

November 2012
Applied Intelligence, Volume 37, No. 3, October 2012

According to a recent analysis of InCites (a subset of Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge), the journal Applied Intelligence has been identified as a Rising Star in the field of Engineering, based on an increase in citations as compared over two successive bimonthly periods. The journal's current record in this field includes 484 papers cited a total of 1,320 times in the current window covering January 1, 2002  to August 31, 2012.

Applied Intelligence is published by Springer and is edited by Moonis Ali, Professor of Computer Science at Texas State University in San Marcos. Below, Ali addresses a few questions about the journal, its history, and its increasing prominence.

SW: Did you expect Applied Intelligence to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?

Applied Intelligence provides a platform for international researchers to share their results with others in the field. Its popularity is consistently increasing. Therefore, we expect Applied Intellgence to become a highly cited international journal.

SW: How would you account for the journal's growing citation rate?

There are several factors. First, the field of applied intelligence itself has become very attractive because of its focus on solving real-life problems, including problems in engineering and industry. Secondly, Applied Intelligence provides an excellent platform for exchanging in-depth research among researchers in the field. Thirdly, Applied Intelligence covers a wide range of areas for solving real-life problems. Fourth, the quality of papers published in Applied Intelligence is very high. We accept only high-quality papers presenting original research; our acceptance rate is 17 %. Lastly, the papers accepted for publication are not just applications of existing methodologies but original methodologies which are applied to solve real-life problems.

SW: Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

The field of artificial intelligence started almost at the same time as the invention of computers and became very popular. But this popularity declined as the field's focus remained mostly on theoretical research. In terms of the applications of that research, the goals of artificial-intelligence researchers were too broad and could not deliver according to expectations. After realizing their mistake, researchers switched during the 1970s and 1980s to solving specific real-life problems through knowledge-based intelligent systems. That point marked the emergence of the field of applied intelligence, which differentiates itself from artificial intelligence because of its focus on solving real-life problems, as opposed to the broad and theoretical approach of artificial intelligence.

The focus of my own research has been on solving real-life problems through intelligent systems methodologies. I started my own research on computer speech recognition in 1966, when the field was in an early stage. Since then I have worked on several real-life applications, including picture grammars, aerial photographic analyses and object recognition, in addition to jet and rocket engine fault diagnoses.

Realizing the importance and need for a platform to exchange research among scientists, engineers, and industry, I started an International Conference on Industrial, Engineering, and other applications of Applied Intelligent Systems (IEA/AIE). The first conference was held in 1988 in Tullahoma, Tennessee. In the last 25 years this conference has been held very successfully worldwide in many countries. IEA/AIE-2012 was held in Dalian, China and IEA/AIE-13 will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Although hundreds of professionals participate in this conference every year, I have been the General Chair for all these years.

IEA/AIE covers applied-intelligence research on real-life applications. The presented papers published in the proceedings (currently published by Springer) have maximum length of 10 pages. In order to publish in-depth research with thorough application results, authors need more than  10 pages. Therefore, there was a need for a high-quality journal to publish in-depth applied research on intelligent systems methodologies and applications. Thus, in 1991, I started the journal Applied Intelligence, which was initially published by Kluwer Academic publishers. Later, Springer took over Kluwer. So Applied Intelligence is now published by Springer.

SW: What historical factors have contributed to the journal's success?

The need for automating processes is prevalent because of the requirement for efficiency and accuracy in automated systems. The demand for productivity lures the manufacturing industry to employ automated systems. The use of intelligent robots is not limited to applications in manufacturing, industry, and engineering, but is creeping into all walks of life. Furthermore, researchers are applying intelligent systems methodologies to solve many real-life problems. The objective of Applied Intelligence matches very well with these developments, which have contributed to the journal's success.

SW: Have there been specific developments in the fields served by the journal that may have contributed?

The focus of research in the field of applied intelligence has moved from simple applications to complex problem-solving technologies through intelligent systems methodologies. These developments in the field are well served by Applied Intelligence, which has made significant contributions for more than 20 years. For example: Papers published on intelligent interfaces are focusing on significantly improving man-machine communication; intelligent manufacturing research is focusing on automating manufacturing process; intelligent decision-making research is providing methodologies for solving problems in all walks of life; analyses and predictions are simulating human heuristics in predicting in the partially known environments; intelligent design,  modeling and automated reasoning are simulating human thought process in solving problems through reasoning; neural networks, genetic programming and evolutionary algorithms mimic the functioning of the human brain; pattern recognition and image-processing research is providing the functions of eyes to computers; intelligent robotic research provides brains to robots; and machine-learning research is making computers automatically learn by themselves.

SW: What, in your view, is this journal's main significance or contribution in the field of engineering and beyond?

Many papers published in the journal are applying intelligent systems methodologies to solve real-life engineering problems. Furthermore, automation has become very important in most engineering fields. Papers published in Applied Intelligence contribute significantly towards methodologies applied in automation. Also, papers published in Applied Intelligence are not limited to engineering. The scope of papers is wide and covers many areas: knowledge-based expert systems; knowledge acquisition and learning; approximate reasoning and fuzzy systems; qualitative, temporal, non-monotonic, and case-based reasoning; automatic planning and scheduling; natural language understanding and speech recognition and generation;  automatic data analyses and intelligent databases; intelligent approaches in software engineering; robotics & controls and autonomous systems; multi-agent systems; biological simulation; and more importantly, applications of such research to solving problems in engineering, industry, and many other fields.

SW: How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few years?

The field of applied intelligence is evolving according to the needs of modern society. For example, the utilization of automation in manufacturing started with rudimentary control systems solving simple problems. Nowadays, manufacturing industries employ sophisticated systems solving complex problems, and applied intelligent systems methodologies are embedded in most of these systems. The full automation of manufacturing facilities has started and will continue. Automated design, planning, and scheduling will also contribute. The Internet and social media also represent fields where applied-intelligence research will contribute significantly. Current search engines are not sophisticated enough to provide to-the-point information. Research on semantics-based searches will make the results to the point. Speech recognition and natural-language processing research will relinquish the need for keyboards and mice. Communication with computers through speech in natural languages will tremendously enhance the devices' employment in our daily lives. The pattern-recognition and image-processing capabilities will provide eyes to computers to facilitate meaningful two-way communication. Problem-solving capabilities will make computers our true partners. Intelligent robots will work side by side with us in solving a wide variety of real-life problems. Computer expert systems will be highly skilled and knowledgeable advisors in medicine, engineering, finance, industry, manufacturing, and many other fields.

These are just a few examples. The prospects for evolving research and applications in the field of applied intelligence to carry out many tasks are real and unlimited.

SW: What role do you see for your journal?

The important components of the journal are its authors, along with the Editorial Board and Review Board. These are internationally known researchers whose knowledge has evolved with time and the changing needs in the field. This, in turn, has fostered the evolution of Applied Intelligence itself. As I mentioned earlier, our acceptance rate is 17%, and about 1,400 authors have published in the journal. We also have more than 300 well-known and internationally recognized Editorial Board and Review Board members. This, in itself, shows the popularity and quality of the journal.

Moonis Ali
Professor of Computer Science
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX

Moonis Ali, applied intelligence, artificial intelligence, speech recognition, Texas State University, robotics

The data and citation records included in this report are from Thomson Reuters Web of ScienceTM. Web of ScienceTM is a registered trademark of Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.