Systems with many interacting parts, whose behaviour cannot be deduced from the properties of its parts are often referred to as complex systems. The existence of such systems appears across a wide range of scales, from elementary particles domain to the astrophysics domain. Furthermore, in addition to physics, mathematics, and chemistry, the existence of such systems is confirmed in many disciplines, such as biology, economics, medicine, and sociology. The underlying geometry is frequently non-Euclidean and can be best analyzed using the tools of fractal analysis.
One of the aims of this conference was to review the current status in the field of fractals within the realm of complexity and to explore the future directions.
This was the 5th conference in this series, attracting 53 delegates; representing every continent. From the 63 submitted papers, by authors from 29 countries, the programme committee accepted 30.
The welcome reception was held on the terrace of the hotel, with splendid views, overlooking the fortified city of Valletta. The book `Fractals and Beyond', published by World Scientific, contains all the accepted contributions.
To maximize the information exchange, the conferencee was divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with about five 30 minutes presentations per session. The Monday afternoon was free for social activities and the conference ended with a lunch on Wednesday.
The conference was officially opened by the conference chairman, Miroslav M. Novak, who welcomed the delegates and encouraged them to actively participate in the meeting and establish new collaborative links. Ample time was allowed for information discussion and for developing social ties.
The first invited presentation, by Tamas Vicsek, from Hungary, reviewed and explored scaling properties in biology. This contribution was amply illustrated with many video clips. There were 2 additional talks in the following session. Being Sunday, an extra sumptuous buffet lunch was offered to all. In spite of this, the afternoon session was full during the 5 half-hour presentations that followed.
On Monday, there were 5 talks in the morning. This session concluded with the second invited talk, presented by Gene Stanley from Boston. He talked about currently very active research in econophysics. It was a most enjoyable presentation. The afternoon was free, to enable participants to socialize and explore the delights of Malta. A guided tour to Valletta proved highly successful. All the posters were displayed throughout the conference. In addition, a special poster session was held on Monday evening.
There were 2 sessions on Tuesday, with 9 talks in total. The conference dinner was held in St. Peter's suite and was enjoyed by all those present. The conference ended following the full Wednesday morning session.
The breadth of topics was broad, as befits this multidisciplinary field. The delegates heard about scaling properties in heartbeat fluctuations, the distribution of acupuncture points, multifractals in turbulence and image analysis, consequences of fractal space-time, applications of iterated function systems to image classification, cellular automata, fluctuations in traffic and cosmic showers, application of wavelets and many other topics. The abstracts of all the papers are available on the conference web site, http://www.kingston.ac.uk/fractal/.
Judging from the reactions of most of the delegates, the conference was a resounding success, both in terms of the scientific content and the quality of the organisation. Currently a sequel in this conference series is being planned and likely to be held early in 2000. The latest details can be found on the conference web site, given above.
Dr. Miroslav M. Novak,
School of Physics,
Surrey KT1 2EE,