TU Wien Informatics

Public Lecture Series: “Sustainability in Computer Science”

  • 2023-07-25
  • Sustainability

Be part of our online lecture series on sustainability in computer science, starting this winter semester.

Public Lecture Series: “Sustainability in Computer Science”
Picture: Olena / stock.adobe.com

Sustainability is not an optional feature. Targeting economic, social, and ecological issues through sustainable development has become a must, not least since the publication of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

Computer Science (CS), and more prominently and recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI), is hailed as the solution to many sustainability problems (and yes, it is!). Still, energy efficiency and CO2 reduction must be considered to ensure fair and ecological use of resources. Hence, dealing with informatics and sustainability involves two faces of the same coin: Sustainability with CS, often referred to as “Computational Sustainability”, and Sustainability for CS, commonly known as “Sustainable CS”.

This lecture series is the first of its kind in Austria, with all Austrian CS departments and faculties participating, under the auspices of Informatik Austria. We want to raise awareness for the utmost importance of sustainability in CS, demonstrating research solutions to various problems, and triggering developments for a sustainable future.

The lecture series will be held in the winter term 2023/2024, every Monday from 17:00-18:00. All lectures will be offered online, as well as one hybrid lecture on January 8, 2024, on-site at TU Wien and online.

Zoom Link

Participate online via Zoom, Meeting ID: 638 6728 1732, Passcode: Xnupv5gi.


Whether you’re a student, a professional looking to expand your knowledge, or a citizen interested in sustainability issues – this lecture series is open to anyone. So switch on your laptop and join us!

Students from participating universities can register to get credits for the series. Please refer to your respective institution for registration.

TU Wien students can register for VU 194.155 “Sustainability in Computer Science” via TISS. Depending on your study program, the lecture series is a free elective or a “Wahlpflichtfach”, please refer to TISS for further information.


The lecture series will be held online every Monday from 17:00-18:00. One hybrid session takes place on January 8, 2024, on-site at TU Wien and online.

Oct 9, 2023

Sustainable Security

Daniel Gruss, TU Graz

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / Global ICT electricity consumption is already beyond 11 percent of the worldwide electricity production and still increasing. By 2030 it may reach around 25 percent. Previous approaches to improve efficiency and performance have often sacrificed security, leading to disastrous security issues like Meltdown and Spectre. Patching just these two vulnerabilities increases power consumption on affected computers by a seemingly harmless 5 percent. By 2030, this may be more than 1 percent of the global electricity production by just a single out of thousands of patches. This development is not sustainable, and in this talk, we will discuss both the problem and potential revolutionary solutions.

Oct 16, 2023

Carbon Footprint of Social Media (and other popular platforms)

Andreas Uhl, PLUS

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / With the increasing importance of sustainable solutions in ICT, social media platforms have been increasingly criticized for their significant carbon footprints. We will have a look at corresponding results and will analyze the methodology how these estimations have been obtained, partially revealing that the perspective from which such investigations are being conducted is significantly biasing the results.

Oct 23, 2023

AI and Optimization for Sustainable Applications

Nysret Musliu, TU Wien Informatics

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / Real-life problems in domains as diverse as health care, supply chain, production and education are frequently very challenging and their solutions impact people involved as well as the resource consumption and efficiency of operations. Optimization and AI provide robust techniques that can be employed to effectively address such problems in a variety of sustainable applications. This lecture gives an overview of various AI and optimization techniques, including problem-solving and machine-learning techniques. Through case studies in scheduling and planning, as well as food waste reduction, we will demonstrate how these techniques can be applied to solve complex problems in sustainable applications.

Oct 30, 2023

Green HPC: Paving the Way for Sustainable Supercomputing

Philipp Gschwandtner, Universität Innsbruck

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / As the demand for high-performance computing continues to surge, the environmental impact of powering and cooling these massive computing infrastructures has become a pressing concern. This talk attempts to unravel the critical intersection of computational power and sustainability within the HPC domain, focusing on energy-efficient hardware, multi-objective optimization and other relevant hardware and software practices.

Nov 6, 2023

Building Intelligent & Sustainable Internet-based Ecosystems

Schahram Dustdar, TU Wien Informatics

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / Modern distributed systems deal with many uncertain scenarios, where environments, infrastructures, and applications are widely diverse. In the scope of IoT-Edge-Fog-Cloud computing, sustainability issues for designing energy-efficient distributed systems arise. Leveraging neuro-inspired principles and mechanisms could aid in building more flexible solutions able to generalize over different environments. A captivating set of hypotheses from the field of neuroscience suggests that human and animal brain mechanisms result from few powerful principles. In this talk, we discuss some fundamental research activities with the goal to make progress in the design and execution of sustainable digital ecosystems.

Nov 13, 2023

Sustainable Blockchains

Krysztof Pietrzak, ISTA

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / The Bitcoin blockchain achieves consensus in an open setting, i.e., where everyone can participate. This was believed to be impossible, the key idea to make this possible was to use computing power rather than some kind of identities for voting through “proofs of work”. Unfortunately, this approach is not sustainable: the Bitcoin blockchain burns roughly as much electricity as a country like Austria. We will outline sustainable alternatives for achieving a Bitcoin-like blockchain, with a focus on using disk-space instead of computation and how this is realized in the Chia Network blockchain.

Nov 20, 2023

Computational Sustainability: From Sustainable IT to IT for a Sustainable World

Ivona Brandic, TU Wien Informatics

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / In the first part of this talk, we will discuss the concepts of sustainable IT. We will present novel approaches for sustainable fault tolerance and trustworthy geographically distributed AI applications utilized on systems ranging from the size of a smartphone to a warehouse-scale data center. Furthermore, we will discuss the novel concept of hybrid classic/quantum systems as a response to the increasing demand for computational resources. Scientific applications are nowadays utilizing different types of hardware accelerators including GPUs, TPUs and NPUs. With the arrival of the post-Moore Era and the rise of quantum computing, we are experiencing new opportunities but also challenges when trying to integrate quantum computers into the well-known computational continuum. This integration into so-called hybrid systems promises resource efficiency at a new order of magnitude. We will discuss challenges regarding the data encoding, noise, transpilation and the high heterogeneity of quantum architectures which necessitate the development and integration of additional hardware/software layers. In the second part of the talk, we will present several use cases, where IT can be utilized to combat climate change and help us to develop a more sustainable world including sustainable watershed management through IoT-driven artificial intelligence and satellite-based monitoring of livestock in the Alpine region.

Nov 27, 2023

Sustainability in Explainable AI

Moritz Grosse-Wentrup, Universität Wien

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / AI systems and machine learning models are increasingly deployed in high-stakes environments, e.g., in medical decision support or loan approval, where ethical and legal considerations require models to be interpretable. Recent research in interpretable machine learning (IML) and explainable AI (xAI) has made great strides in providing methods that reveal the inner workings of machine learning models. Several key challenges, however, remain to be addressed. In particular, these challenges include distinguishing between interpreting the model and using the model to interpret the data-generating process, and providing intuitive explanations suitable for domain experts rather than for AI researchers. In my presentation, I will provide an overview over IML/xAI methods and show how we can resolve (aspects of) these challenges by adopting a causal perspective on IML/XAI, which interprets models in the context of the data-generating process.

Dec 11, 2023

Electric Load Disaggregation as a Means for Increasing Energy Awareness and Reducing Energy Consumption

Wilfried Elmenreich, Universität Klagenfurt

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / When the EU introduced smart meters, the idea was to give consumers more information about their power consumption, thus raising energy awareness. Tailored appliance-level feedback is expected to lead to more careful use of energy and thus to savings of around 12%. Despite the potential benefits, implementing a network of small measurement devices, each per appliance/socket, has raised concerns due to the added energy consumption and intrusive visibility of smart adapters impacting user experience. Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring employs computer algorithms to extract appliance consumption data from a single, smart meter measuring the entire system’s consumption. While this concept has been around since 1985, when George W. Hart (MIT) proposed it in a report for the Electric Power Research Institute, recent advancements in computer science have propelled its potential. This talk explores the significance of load disaggregation and its relevance in today’s context, where smart meters and small embedded devices like the Raspberry Pi offer sufficient computational resources. The presentation delves into the evolution of load disaggregation algorithms, from traditional bin-packing techniques and Hidden Markov Models to the cutting-edge application of deep neural networks powered by machine learning. As these techniques continue to evolve, the talk also addresses the pressing need to address privacy issues and develop comprehensive, long-term interfaces that engage consumers in a captivating manner to monitor their power consumption effectively. In conclusion, the talk highlights the potential of Electric Load Disaggregation in increasing energy awareness and reducing energy consumption. Leveraging advancements in computer science, this technology promises to substantially impact sustainable energy practices, empowering consumers to conserve energy and promote a greener future.

Dec 18, 2023

Computer Science Between Energy Savings and Waste: From Videoconferencing to Blockchain

René Mayrhofer, JKU Linz

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / Digital information and communication services offer the potential for significant energy savings: video conferencing instead of trans-continental flight, file transfer and streaming instead of shipping physical media, or cryptocurrency instead of transporting gold and paper money. But what is the real energy balance of these digital options? In this talk, we try to quantify such comparisons based on estimates of the energy consumption of various digital services.

Jan 8, 2024


Dieter Kranzlmüller, Leibniz Rechenzentrum München

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / This lecture will be held hybrid, on-site at TU Wien, and online. Stay tuned for more info.

Jan 15, 2024

Harnessing Untapped Potentials in the Internet of Things: Retrofitting and Upgradability

Kaspar Lebloch, Universität Wien

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / Today’s smart devices are tomorrow’s paperweights. Particularly Internet of Things (IoT) devices have gained a reputation for being unreliable in their overdependence on mandatory services and their providers. Some consumers actively avoid smart home devices or leave them disconnected due to privacy or reliability concerns. In this lecture, we explore the untapped sustainability potentials in retrofitting existing legacy hardware with open, local IoT technology in different ways and try to envision a path toward a more modular, personalizable, and upgradable IoT.

Jan 22, 2024

Sustainability in Software Engineering

Franz Wotawa, TU Graz

17:00-18:00 CEST, via Zoom / In this talk, we are going to discuss the intersection of software engineering research and sustainability. We start with discussing existing approaches in software engineering for improving sustainability and in particular reducing the energy consumption of applications. Afterward, we outline the application of sustainability to software.

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