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Other glimpses


Published in the IAPR Newsletter


“Funny (?) things can happen when organizing an ICPR”, Jan. ‘06

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“Technical Committees”, Oct. ‘05

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“Publicity and Publications Committee”, Jul. ‘05

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“The Office of the Secretariat”, Apr. ‘05

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Against the rules: 

not for the weak-hearted











Maria Petrou—IAPR Treasurer


As IAPR Treasurer, Maria Petrou is a member of the ExCo.  She is an IAPR Governing Board member from the UK and is also a former editor of the IAPR Newsletter, where her editorial cartoons were featured on a regular basis.  (L.O’Gorman, ed.)

There are two kinds of people: male and female; good and bad; scientists and not; members of an IAPR member organisation and not! And, there are people who believe that IAPR should be very careful who is a member and who is not, and those who think that rigour is not necessary when it comes to that.


There are people who think that IAPR should grow in strength and power by carefully controlling its boundaries and offering its services only to its members, and there are people who think that IAPR is not there in order to have power, but in order to serve the community. So, one thing both agree on is that the main objective of IAPR is to serve the community. Where they disagree is in the definition of the community.


The former consider that the community consists of all pattern recognisers who pay their subscription to a member society; they want name lists that are updated every so often, in case somebody somewhere misleads somebody-else somewhere-else. They want the IAPR Newsletter to advertise only conferences that bowed to the might of IAPR and asked for its sponsorship and blessing. They want careful allocation of the votes in the Governing Board (GB) in case some country deceives the others and has more votes than its current membership count deserves.


Then comes the other definition of the community: as long as you work in a pattern recognition related topic, you are a member, whether you pay your subscription or not. As long as you are interested in pattern recognition matters, you are one of us. As long as the conference is of interest to pattern recognisers, it should be advertised and the community notified of its existence.


But, I can hear some people saying: "What about the voting rights? If a country declares that it has more members than it actually has, it has more votes in the GB of IAPR! This is unfair!" Well, well, well, let's put things into perspective. The GB of IAPR does not exactly make earth-shattering decisions; it is not the Security Council; it does not declare wars, and it does not impose sanctions. In terms of the world scene, it is a Mickey-mouse body, making Mickey-mouse decisions. Sorry guys, for offending your sense of importance, but please note the "in terms of" in front of the offending sentence.


I am very proud to be a member of the GB, and I take decision-making seriously (perhaps that is why I am risking your wrath and writing this article), but let us not take ourselves too seriously. If, for whatever reason, a country cannot prove, by supplying a list of names, that it actually has the number of members it claims it has, does it really, really, really matter? Can't we recognise the pattern that some countries have many universities, many scientists, many pattern recognisers, much research output, and leave it to that, instead of alienating members, creating a climate of mistrust and suspicion and propagating bureaucratic procedures? Can't we have a web page and a newsletter full of goodies for ALL the community, whether or not they are named in some list somewhere? Can't we claim that ICCV and ECCV and CVPR and BMVC are OUR conferences, too, since they are organised by members of the community, OUR community, the everybody encompassing community? Can't we make do without those name lists member societies have to supply every so often? After all, really serious matters, like aid distribution and subsidies by the EU and the UN, are managed according to the population each country declares she has, and I do not know of any country that has to supply a list of the names of its citizens in order to prove its claims.


Well, as I said at the beginning, there are two kinds of people: those who divide the world into two kinds and those who do not. I belong to the second.