News 2022

Sandra Kiefer joins MPI-SWS

Sandra Kiefer has joined MPI-SWS as a research group leader, effective April 1, 2022. Her research interests include algorithmic and structural graph theory as well as logic in computer science, with a recent focus on the applicability of tools from these areas to the study of biochemical networks.

Sandra obtained her Ph.D. from RWTH Aachen University. For her work on combinatorial and logical approaches to graph comparison, she received the Ackermann Award 2020, the EACSL Outstanding Dissertation Award for Logic in Computer Science. ...
Sandra Kiefer has joined MPI-SWS as a research group leader, effective April 1, 2022. Her research interests include algorithmic and structural graph theory as well as logic in computer science, with a recent focus on the applicability of tools from these areas to the study of biochemical networks.

Sandra obtained her Ph.D. from RWTH Aachen University. For her work on combinatorial and logical approaches to graph comparison, she received the Ackermann Award 2020, the EACSL Outstanding Dissertation Award for Logic in Computer Science. After her Ph.D. studies, Sandra was a postdoctoral researcher at RWTH and at the University of Warsaw. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Bioinformatics and Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Goethe University Frankfurt. She has also completed an M.Ed. degree in Mathematics and Spanish.
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Outstanding Paper Honorable Mention at AAAI 2022

MPI-SWS researchers Jiarui Gan, Rupak Majumdar, Goran Radanovic, and Adish Singla have received an Outstanding Paper Award Honorable Mention at AAAI 2022, for their paper "Bayesian Persuasion in Sequential Decision-Making."

The AAAI conference is one of the leading international venues for AI research, covering all sub-areas of the field. AAAI 2022 received more than 9000 submissions, of which 1370 were accepted for publication. Of these 1370 papers, only three papers were selected for an outstanding paper award. ...
MPI-SWS researchers Jiarui Gan, Rupak Majumdar, Goran Radanovic, and Adish Singla have received an Outstanding Paper Award Honorable Mention at AAAI 2022, for their paper "Bayesian Persuasion in Sequential Decision-Making."

The AAAI conference is one of the leading international venues for AI research, covering all sub-areas of the field. AAAI 2022 received more than 9000 submissions, of which 1370 were accepted for publication. Of these 1370 papers, only three papers were selected for an outstanding paper award. Of these three outstanding papers, two were authored by researchers at the Saarland Informatics Campus.
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Joël Ouaknine appointed ACM Fellow

MPI-SWS scientific director Joël Ouaknine was appointed as a Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the largest computer science association in the world, Joel, who leads the “Foundations of Algorithmic Verification” research group, was appointed ACM fellow for his contributions to algorithmic analysis of dynamical systems.

ACM has also elected as Fellows two researchers from our neighboring Max Planck Institute for Informatics: Thomas Lengauer is recognized for contributions to bioinformatics and medical informatics and Bernt Schiele is recognized for contributions to large-scale object recognition, ...
MPI-SWS scientific director Joël Ouaknine was appointed as a Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the largest computer science association in the world, Joel, who leads the “Foundations of Algorithmic Verification” research group, was appointed ACM fellow for his contributions to algorithmic analysis of dynamical systems.

ACM has also elected as Fellows two researchers from our neighboring Max Planck Institute for Informatics: Thomas Lengauer is recognized for contributions to bioinformatics and medical informatics and Bernt Schiele is recognized for contributions to large-scale object recognition, human detection, and pose estimation.

The ACM Fellows program recognizes the 1% of ACM members who have made the most outstanding achievements in the field of computer and information technology. Worldwide 71 new ACM Fellows were elected this year, twelve of them in Europe, four in Germany and three of them in Saarbrücken.

Further Information: 
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Bob Harper receives ACM SIGPLAN Achievement Award

January 2022
Bob Harper, an MPI-SWS external scientific member, has received the 2021 ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award---the most significant international career award in programming languages. He received the award for his "foundational contributions to our understanding of type theory and its use in the design, specification, implementation, and verification of modern programming languages".

Award Citation:

Robert (Bob) Harper is widely known for his foundational contributions to our understanding of type theory and its use in the design, ...
Bob Harper, an MPI-SWS external scientific member, has received the 2021 ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award---the most significant international career award in programming languages. He received the award for his "foundational contributions to our understanding of type theory and its use in the design, specification, implementation, and verification of modern programming languages".

Award Citation:

Robert (Bob) Harper is widely known for his foundational contributions to our understanding of type theory and its use in the design, specification, implementation, and verification of modern programming languages. Bob demonstrated that sound type systems and operational semantics are not only appropriate vehicles for reasoning about idealized languages, but that this theory can be applied to complex, modern languages. His achievements include analysis of language features ranging from references to continuations to modules, the definition of a variety of new type systems, the idea of using types throughout the compilation process, the analysis of run-time system semantics and cost, a formal definition of Standard ML and its mechanization, the definition of logical framework LF and other logical frameworks based on homotopy type theory.

Some of Bob’s most influential work involved the design, theory and implementation of the TIL (Typed Intermediate Language) compiler system, which pioneered the idea that compilers can propagate type information to lower-level intermediate languages, where it can be used to guide optimizations and to catch compiler bugs. These ideas led directly to the development of proof-carrying code, typed assembly language, and a wide array of type-preserving compilers.

Bob Harper has also had a profound impact though his mentorship, teaching and the influence of his books “Programming in Standard ML” and “Practical Foundations for Programming Languages.”
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Adish Singla awarded ERC Starting Grant

January 2022
Adish Singla, head of the MPI-SWS Machine Teaching Research group, has been awarded a 2021 ERC Starting Grant. Over the next five years, his project TOPS will receive funding of 1.5 million euros for research on "Machine-Assisted Teaching for Open-Ended Problem Solving: Foundations and Applications". Read more about the TOPS project below.

ERC grants are the most prestigious and the most competitive European-level awards for ground-breaking scientific investigations. This year, less than 10% of all ERC Starting Grant applicants across all scientific disciplines received the award, ...
Adish Singla, head of the MPI-SWS Machine Teaching Research group, has been awarded a 2021 ERC Starting Grant. Over the next five years, his project TOPS will receive funding of 1.5 million euros for research on "Machine-Assisted Teaching for Open-Ended Problem Solving: Foundations and Applications". Read more about the TOPS project below.

ERC grants are the most prestigious and the most competitive European-level awards for ground-breaking scientific investigations. This year, less than 10% of all ERC Starting Grant applicants across all scientific disciplines received the award, with only 23 awardees in Computer Science across all of Europe! You can find more information about ERC Starting Grants awarded this year at https://erc.europa.eu/news/StG-recipients-2021.

The TOPS Project

Computational thinking and problem solving skills are essential for everyone in the 21st century, both for students to excel in STEM+Computing fields and for adults to thrive in the digital economy. Consequently, educators are putting increasing emphasis on pedagogical tasks in open-ended domains such as programming, conceptual puzzles, and virtual reality environments.

When learning to solve such open-ended tasks by themselves, people often struggle. The difficulties are embodied in the very nature of tasks being open-ended: (a) underspecified (multiple solutions of variable quality), (b) conceptual (no well-defined procedure), (c) sequential (series of interdependent steps needed), and (d) exploratory (multiple pathways to reach a solution). These struggling learners can benefit from individualized assistance, for instance, by receiving personalized curriculum across tasks or feedback within a task. Unfortunately, human tutoring resources are scarce, and receiving individualized human-assistance is rather a privilege. Technology empowered by artificial intelligence has the potential to tackle this scarcity challenge by providing scalable and automated machine-assisted teaching. However, the state-of-the-art technology is limited: it is designed for well-defined procedural learning, but not for open-ended conceptual problem solving.

The TOPS project will develop next-generation technology for machine-assisted teaching in open-ended domains. We will design novel algorithms for assisting the learner by bridging reinforcement learning, imitation learning, cognitive science, and symbolic reasoning. Our theoretical foundations will be based on a computational framework that models the learner as a reinforcement learning agent who gains mastery with the assistance of an automated teacher. In addition to providing solid foundations, we will demonstrate the performance of our techniques in a wide range of pedagogical applications.
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Goran Radanovic receives Emmy Noether Award

January 2022


Goran Radanovic, a research group leader in the Multi-Agent Systems group, was accepted to the Emmy Noether Programme of the German Science Foundation (DFG). This grant programme is the most prestigious programme for early career researchers from the DFG. It provides funding for an independent research group for a period of six years.

Goran's group will be hosted at MPI-SWS in Saarbruecken and will contribute to research on reinforcement learning for multi-agent systems. ...


Goran Radanovic, a research group leader in the Multi-Agent Systems group, was accepted to the Emmy Noether Programme of the German Science Foundation (DFG). This grant programme is the most prestigious programme for early career researchers from the DFG. It provides funding for an independent research group for a period of six years.

Goran's group will be hosted at MPI-SWS in Saarbruecken and will contribute to research on reinforcement learning for multi-agent systems. His Emmy Noether research project will focus on designing a framework for trustworthy multi-agent sequential decision making, and will study two important aspects of trustworthiness: robustness (the ability to deal with adversaries and uncertainty) and accountability (the ability to provide an account for one’s behavior).

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