SOFSEM is a seminar with a long term tradition that has been evolving into its present form for more than 20 years. Founded in 1974, SOFSEM (which stands for SOFtware SEMinar) initially arose through the efforts of Jozef Gruska from the Computing Research Center, Bratislava, and Jiri Horejs from the Central Computing Center of Masaryk University, Brno. Gruska served as the program committee chairman for the first 10 years of SOFSEM's existence.
Soon after its establishing SOFSEM became the foremost Czechoslovak seminar devoted to theoretical and practical problems of software systems. In fact, during those early days of computer science and technology SOFSEM supplemented the university education and academic research by mediating a fast transfer of the latest relevant knowledge to the SOFSEM audience. Traditionally, this audience consisted of university professors, academic researchers, university teaching staff, advanced students, and professionals from the field. First local and later on also international experts have been invited. Each of them was to present a series of lectures related to some recent topics in computer science. The basic format of each SOFSEM consisted of several series of invited talks. Each of them had the duration of 3 to 5 hours. This was complemented by selected contributions of participants presented during two half-days in two parallel sessions. Until 1994, the total duration of SOFSEMs was two weeks.
The most substantial changes concerning SOFSEM have been realized after the 'velvet' revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. By that time, SOFSEM has subsequently transformed from a mainly national seminar into a truly international conference. In 1993, an international advisory board was created to provide assistance to the program committee in the preparation of a scientific program. Beginning with SOFSEM'95, after two years of exhaustive discussions SOFSEM was shortened to eight days while almost preserving the number of invited lectures. This was achieved mostly at the expense of somehow shortening the basic lecturing unit from 60 minutes down to 45 minutes and of getting rid of a single free day during the seminar. At the same time SOFSEM proceedings now appear as a volume in the Springer Verlag series Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Also after the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993 it is still assumed that SOFSEM will continue to be held in either the Czech Republic or the Slovak Republic.
Thus, through its numerous invited papers and selected contributed papers as well as its excellent working atmosphere, the current SOFSEM is a mix of a winter school, a conference, and an advanced workshop. Driven by an international advisory board in reflecting the recent trends both in theory and practice, the current SOFSEM prolongs its tradition in striving for multidisciplinarity and generalizations in informatics. At the same time it intends to foster international co-operation among professionals working in various areas of computer science.