I’m coming back from CPS Week, which I attended for the first time. The nice part was that the conference took place at KTH in Stockholm. The not so nice part was that I got stuck (like everybody else there) on my way back due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Fortunately I only wanted to reach Paris, not the US. That took me 3 days rather than 3 hours however.

The conference was fun. For those who wonder, CPS stands for “Cyber-Physical System”. Granted, that might not be the best name one could come up with. I actually thought that “cyber-” had disappeared in the 90s, but apparently it has come back. Pretty much every plenary speaker struggled to offer his definition of what a CPS is, but none was very convincing.

So let me maybe say here what CPS are in my opinion. It turns out that many researchers working in different areas, such as real-time systems, control systems, or sensor networks, face the same kind of problems and work on the same systems, but used to go to different conferences and publish in different journals. The goal of CPS week is to change that and foster collaboration, which I think is a good idea. But you need a new word to be able to bring these people together. Clearly, you cannot suddenly tell researchers in real-time systems that now they are doing control theory, and vice-versa. That’s why you can pretty much put whatever you want in your definition of CPS, depending on your background.