The second international conference on “Symmetries and Integrability of Difference Equations” (SIDE II) was held at the University of Kent at Canterbury, July 1-5, 1996. It was the successor of a first meeting on the same topic held in Estérel (Québec, Canada), under the auspices of the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques (CRM) of the University of Montréal in 1994, cf. the Proceedings of that meeting, . Like in Estérel, this SIDEII meeting aimed at bringing together researchers working in the general field of discrete systems and difference equations with emphasis on symmetries and integrability.
The subject area of the meeting is relatively young: in the last decade, and particularly during the last few years, a great deal of progress has been made on the mathematical aspects of discrete integrable systems, including integrable dynamical mappings, ordinary and partial difference equations, lattice solitons, discrete versions of the Painlevé equations, symmetry approaches and singularity analysis, and applications to numerical analysis, computer science and Physics. The two SIDE meetings have brought together many leading experts in the various aspects of this field, coming from quite different backgrounds. As such the interdisciplinary nature of the meeting is reflected in the present volume, marking contributions in a large variety of fields.
It is important to give some explanation as to why we believe that combining the efforts in the fields of discrete systems is significant, especially in this day and age.