A Brief History of the Interface Symposia

The first Interface Symposium was held in Southern California in 1967 and sponsored by the local chapters of both the American Statistical Association and the Association for Computing Machinery. Most participants were from the West Coast. The second and third symposia were also held in Southern California, but were extended to two day conferences. With the substantial interest displayed in the initial local meetings, the organizers had sufficient encouragement and impetus to continue the series. Hence, a fourth symposium was held in Irvine, California in 1970. Thus began what has now become an established tradition of symposia held in various parts of North America and always attracting a wide variety of participants to its high quality programs.

Under the chairmanship of Mitchell O. Locks, the fifth symposium was held at Oklahoma State University with H.O. Hartley as keynote speaker. John Tukey presented the keynote address at the sixth symposium held at the University of California, Berkeley with Michael Tarter serving as Chairman. Martin B. Wilk provided the keynote address at the seventh symposium hosted by Iowa State University with William J. Kennedy serving as the Chairman. The series returned to Southern California for the eighth symposium at the University of California, Los Angeles, with Edwin Kuh providing the keynote address and James W. Frane as the Chairman. John R. Rice of Purdue University was the keynote speaker at the ninth symposium held at Harvard University. David Hoaglin and Roy E. Welsch jointly chaired this symposium.

The tenth symposium was hosted by the National Bureau of Standards, the keynote speaker being Professor Anthony Ralston with Dr. David Hogben as Chairman. Nancy Mann, an organizer of the original Southern California meetings, was the keynote speaker for the eleventh symposium held at North Carolina State University. Ronald Gallant and Thomas Gerig co-chaired the eleventh symposium. The symposia series took on an international flavor in 1979 when the twelfth symposium was held at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Professor D.R. Cox of Imperial College was the keynote speaker and Jane F. Gentleman the Chair. No Symposium was held in 1980. The series resumed in 1981 when Carnegie-Mellon University was the site of the thirteenth symposium. Bradley Efron presented the keynote address and William F. Eddy served as the Chair. John Tukey returned as the keynote speaker for the fourteenth symposium held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York in 1982. John W. Wilkinson, Karl W. Heiner, and Richard Sacher co-chaired the fourteenth symposium. The fifteenth symposium was held March 17 and 18, 1983 in Houston hosted by IMSL with James Gentle as Chairman. The keynote address was given by Richard Hamming.

In 1984, the symposium moved to Atlanta with Lynne Billard as Chair. She invited George Marsaglia to give the keynote at this sixteenth Interface Symposium. The 1985 Symposium was hosted by the University of Kentucky in Lexington under the Chairmanship of David Allen. The keynote address was given by John C. Nash. John Tukey gave an encore performance as the keynote speaker for the eighteenth Symposium in 1986 at the meeting held in Fort Collins, Colorado chaired by Thomas Boardman. The 1987 symposium was held in Philadelphia under the chairmanship of Richard Heiberger. Professor Gene Golub was the keynote speaker.

The 1988 Symposium, the first held under the auspices of the newly formed Interface Foundation of North America, Inc., was held in Reston, Virginia, with George Mason University as the host institution. Edward Wegman served as the Program Chair and Bradley Efron gave the keynote address. In 1989, the Symposium was hosted by the University of Central Florida and held in Kissimmee, Florida. Linda Malone handled local arrangements, and Kenneth Berk organized the program. The keynote speaker was John Nelder. The Symposium moved to the Michigan State University Campus for the 1990 meeting. Raoul LePage served as Program Chair, and Peter Hall delivered the keynote address.

The twenty-third symposium was held in Seattle, Washington in 1991. Hosted by Bellcore and chaired by Jon Kettenring, the keynote speaker was E.S. Lander. The 1991 symposium also marked the first time that Interface became the publisher of its own proceedings. The 1992 meeting was hosted by Texas A&M University and held in College Station Texas. Joseph Newton was the program chair and keynote addresses were given by James Blinn and Edward Tufte. In 1993 the meeting was help in San Diego with Michael Tarter as program chair and David Brillinger as keynote speaker. The twenty-sixth Interface Symposium was held June 15-18, 1994 in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. John Sall of the SAS Institute was the program chair and G.W. (Pete) Stewart gave the keynote address. The 1995 meeting was held June 21-24 in Pittsburgh. Mike Meyer and James Rosenberger were program chairs and Raj Reddy gave the keynote address. The 1996 Interface Symposium was held July 8-10 in conjunction with the Sydney International Statistical Congress. Lynne Billard and Nick Fishers were program chairs. The 1997 meeting was held in Houston, Texas with David Scott as program chair and Jerome Friedman as keynoter. Sandy Weisberg chaired the 1998 Interface held in Minneapolis with David Rocke as keynote speaker. Mohsen Pouradmadi and Ken Berk co-chaired the 1999 Interface and Leo Brieman was the keynote speaker.

The millenium symposium is being co-chaired by Sallie Keller-McNulty, Sally Morton and and Vicki Lancaster. Grace Wahbe is the keynoter speaker and David Hand will give the banquet address.

The Interface Foundation of North America, Inc.

Creation of the Corporation

The Interface series had grown almost by accident. An informally organized Board of Governors had existed since the Fourth Symposium consisting of all past program chairs. Thus the Board of Governors grew by one with each passing year. With this structure, the corporate planning experience was able to be passed on to new program chairs. However, the sole administrative responsibility of the Board was to choose the next Program Chair. Once this was done, the total responsibility for program, publication, finances, advertising, and local arrangements was in the hands of this newly elected Program Chair. As the scale of the Symposia increased, this became a burdensome responsibility.

In addition, because there was no corporate entity underpinning the Symposium series, all funding for each Symposium was funnelled through the university or corporate host with essentially no mechanism for passing on seed money to the subsequent Program Chairs. In several cases, this meant that Program Chairs had to take loans out to do initial financing of their Symposia. In all cases, contracts signed with the hotels were the personal liability of the Program Chair. More significantly for the funding agencies, this lack of corporate underpinning meant that the Symposium series could not be self-sustaining since there was no legal entity to perpetuate the funding.

Finally, the unique interdisciplinary character of the Interface series was threatened as more disciplinary oriented societies offered in essence to take over the Interface series. It was felt by the Board of Governors that this would be a serious threat to the integrity of the series as a true interdisciplinary forum.

For all of these reasons, in 1986 the Board of Governors established a committee chaired by Lynne Billard and including Bill Eddy, Bill Kennedy, Jim Gentle, and Ed Wegman to investigate the possibility of incorporating as a non-profit educational foundation. Ed Wegman spearheaded this investigation and proposed a set of bylaws at the Nineteenth Interface Symposium held in Philadelphia. The Board of Governors voted unanimously to incorporate and the Interface Foundation of North America, Inc. was established as a Virginia corporation in late August, 1987.