TU Wien Informatics

What Algorithms and Twister Have In Common

  • By Theresa Aichinger-Fankhauser
  • 2022-09-13
  • Education Outreach
  • Public Outreach

At this year's Vienna Science Festival, curious minds both young and old were able to experience what informatics is all about.

As playful as the party-game twister, but shows how an algorithm actually works – the sorting network mat.
As playful as the party-game twister, but shows how an algorithm actually works – the sorting network mat.
Picture: Stefan Szeider

At first glance, it resembles a large twister mat. But this colorful floor covering can do more – it is a sorting network, that demonstrates how computers sort random numbers into order using an algorithm. Over a thousand visitors from all age groups became part of this simple computer process created by Stefan Szeider and his team at the Vienna Science Festival from 9 to 11 September 2022. Re-watch the Understanding Algorithms experiment and explanation here, and listen to what happened during Radio Wien’s visit at the Algorithms and Complexity Research Unit station.

Thanks to the volunteers Kurdo-Jaroslav Asinger, Jakob Johannes Bauer, Josephine Dik, Katalin Fazekas, Lorenz Kothmayr, Laura Kovacs, January Pleschberger, Vaidyanathan Peruvemba Ramaswamy, Anton Simma, Marian Szeider, Pingping Wang, and Hai Xia – the station was a great success!

As if algorithms were not enough, TU Wien Informatics’ Artifact-based Computing and User Research Group’s Eternity Bike swept the visitors away to different places using a VR bicycle simulator. More info on self-driving bicycles and the project by Philipp Wintersberger and his team here. For all the bicycle enthusiasts out there, the team is currently doing a study on how augmented reality can be used to enhance bicycle glasses and helmets, be a part of it!

And last but not least: Self-driving bicycles are not the only vehicles TU Wien Informatics has to offer: Andreas Brandstätter introduced the racing lovers in the audience to the Cyber-Physical System Research Unit’s Autonomous Racing Cars. Read about their latest race at TU Wien’s famous Kuppelsaal here. Thanks to the volunteers Felix Resch, Moritz Christamentl, Daniel Scheuchenstuhl, Stefan Ulmer, Dennis Erdogan, Luigi Berducci, and Agnes Poks for bringing the racing cars to life!

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