Dissertation Awards for our former PhD students Jan Maly and Markus Hecher
Two former PhD students of Prof. Stefan Woltran, Markus Hecher and Jan Maly were recently honored for their excellent dissertations.
Jan received the “Dissertationspreis der Stadt Wien” from the city council of Vienna for his thesis “Ranking Sets of Objects: How to Deal with Impossibility Results”. In the thesis, Jan studies the problem of deriving a ranking on a family of sets from a ranking on the elements of these sets, a central problem in many subfields of AI. Famous impossibility results tell us that the generated ranking on sets cannot satisfy several desirable properties at once. Jan takes a novel perspective on this problem by asking whether these impossibility results can be avoided if we put certain restrictions on the families of sets.
Markus received the award of excellence from the Austrian ministry of education, science, and research (BMBWF) for his thesis “Advanced tools and methods for treewidth-based problem solving”, as was recently reported by TU Vienna. He focused on ways to improve solving of computationally hard problems. In order to speed-up modern computer programs tackling these problems, one can analyze the structural dependency of instances, which is often studied by means of the so-called treewidth, a measure that indicates how tree-like (i.e., how easy to solve) an instance is. In his thesis, Markus developed algorithms for treewidth that allow us to efficiently evaluate logical formulas. He developed a novel toolkit for establishing treewidth-based lower bounds for many questions in artificial intelligence, thereby solving a problem that has been open for more than a decade. With the help of this toolkit, he showed that a significant improvement of a whole list of treewidth-based algorithms in artificial intelligence is very unlikely.
Both young scientists continue their research as postdocs. Jan currently works at the University of Amsterdam as part of an FWF Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship and Markus works at our institute as a project assistant for the “Hypar” project.