It is my great pleasure to welcome you to PACT 2014 on the North Campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton! When we proposed for PACT to come to Canada our goal was for you to experience the University of Alberta campus life, the city of Edmonton and to gain some perspective on Canadian history and experience.
Often when I talk with visitors from far away they wonder how and why a large city got established in this place given the very cold weather that we experience for a long stretch of the year. While most people understand that the First Nations have adapted and lived in this cold environment for a long time, they still wonder why a large modern city got established in this place. There are three very important phases to the development of Edmonton. The first Europeans came because of the thirst in Europe for fur to make top hats and other fur attire. The settlers came next looking for new land, followed by the establishment of the railroad to the West. More recently, natural resources extraction, in the form of oil sands and natural gas, has fueled the development of Edmonton.
PACT is one of the few conferences in the computing community that has recognized the importance of informal casual interactions among the participants by building, in the middle of the conference schedule, time for such interactions via cultural excursions. We decided to take advantage of this great PACT tradition to give the PACT community a sense of the rich history of this place. We chose the Fort Edmonton Park, a living history museum, and the historical Fairmount Hotel Macdonald as the spots to illustrate this history. The social program is completed with a taste of modern Edmonton through a visit to the Alberta Gallery of Art before the banquet. We hope that you will take a minute to look around when arriving on Churchill Square by LRT on Monday evening. Around you there will be the City Hall building with glass pyramids evoking the Rocky Mountains, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, regarded as one of the performing arts venues with best acoustics by many performers, and the Citadel Theatre, which is home to several performing-art venues. Later, as you stand in front of the historical Hotel Macdonald, try to imagine that building standing there surrounded only by much smaller buildings when it was first constructed by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company. That luxurious hotel was one of a series of "railway hotels" that were built in the West to accommodate guests that would travel by rail from the East.
The actual conference program will take place in the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences located in the North end of the main quad of the University of Alberta main campus. This venue is within walking distance of the Campus Tower Hotel, Lister Hall, and the LRT University station. A modern building conceptualized to show ``Science on the making,'' this building houses the department of Physics and several other Science disciplines, including Biological Sciences. The Department of Computing Science is housed in Athabasca Hall, which is the central red-brick building on the West side of the quad. Again you may try to imagine Athabasca Hall standing alone on a field as it was the very first building of the University of Alberta a little over 100 years ago --- if you enter Athabasca Hall and walk straight acrross the hallway you will find the Heritage lounge, a quiet space for studying where you will see pictures of the building in its early days. The Student Union building on the South side of the main quad also has a quiet room for studying.
The Workshops and Tutorials will take place in the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy which is located accross the street from the University of Alberta Hospital. This modern building was recently completed and was conceived as a home for integrated education and training in the area of medical sciences.
PACT will also feature an ACM Student Research Competition (SRC) and a poster section, which will take place during a reception on Monday evening. I would like to thank the Program Chair, Workshop/Tutorial chair, SRC Chair, Program Committee members, external reviewers, authors, volunteers, publicity chairs, steering committee members, workshop and tutorial organizers, and all others that have worked diligently to make PACT 2014 a success. A special thanks to Melanie Calvert for overseeing all the logistics with such great care. And I would like to specially thank the participants for making their way to Edmonton to take part in PACT 2014. I hope you have a great conference and a great experience in Edmonton.
Jose Nelson Amaral
PACT 2014 General Chair
Professor of Computing Science
University of Alberta