Holger Hoos to Be Appointed Humboldt Professor for Artificial Intelligence at RWTH


Starting January 1, 2022, Holger Hoos, currently a professor at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), will be appointed Humboldt Professor at RWTH Aachen University.

  Holger Hoos Copyright: © Elodie Burrillon

The computer scientist Holger Hoos is set to be appointed Alexander von Humboldt Professor in Artificial Intelligence at RWTH Aachen University. Hoos is considered a pioneer in automated configuration and in the selection and performance prediction of algorithms for challenging problems in artificial intelligence (AI).

His research has significantly advanced the state of the art in solving a wide range of challenging problems in AI and related fields such as operations research and bioinformatics. Now, the AI expert, who is currently a professor at Leiden University, has been selected as one of ten researchers to be granted an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship.

The Alexander von Humboldt professorship is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research through its International Research Fund for Germany. Worth up to five million euros, the Humboldt professorship is the most valuable research award in Germany. The award serves to finance the professorship for a period of five years. As part of the award nomination, the nominating university must outline a strategy to secure the award recipient’s long-term affiliation. At the time of nomination, the candidate must work abroad and be an internationally recognized expert in their field.

Pioneering Contributions to Machine Learning

“Professor Holger Hoos has made pioneering contributions to automated machine learning, a dynamic field of research which we at RWTH think has great potential. Achieving good results with machine learning methods does not only require good algorithms and sufficient amounts of high-quality data, but also a great deal of expertise. And this is exactly what Professor Hoos is capable of providing. We are delighted to be able to recruit this researcher, who is a world leader in his field of research,” says the Rector of RWTH Aachen University, Professor Ulrich Rüdiger.

“A key focus is on the convergence of artificial intelligence, data science, and the simulation sciences to establish a strong methodological core for these data- and model-driven fields, which are crucial in many strategically important areas. We already succeeded in strengthening the simulation sciences and raised their profile in the area of data science, both fields already have an impact far beyond RWTH.”

Hoos will be appointed a professor at RWTH’s Computer Science Department in the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences and become one of the directors of the newly established AI Center, which is pooling the University’s research activities in this field.

“Holger Hoos, as one of the founders of the concept of automated machine learning, is ideally suited to complement the AI Center’s areas of strength with his broad and deep expertise in the methodological foundations of AI and beyond, but also to establish a research beacon at the interface of Simulation, Data Science and AI. He will contribute to several AI initiatives, including a planned collaboration with Belgian and Dutch universities,” says Professor Klaus Wehrle, spokesperson for RWTH’s Computer Science Department.

Hoos, a German-Canadian, has been a professor in machine learning at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), Leiden University, Netherlands, since 2017. He is also visiting professor at the Computer Science Department of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI). He has received several high-profile awards for his work in machine learning. In 2018, he was one of the three co-founders of the CLAIRE initiative, which aims to establish Europe as a location for excellence in AI research and innovation.

Research for Real-World Applications

Hoos’ research has repeatedly led to real-world applications, some of which have attracted considerable attention. These include an automated vulnerability check in Amazon's customer cloud networks, clean energy pricing in collaboration with Powerex Inc., and the use of his techniques in a large-scale bandwidth auction by a U.S. federal agency.

Alexander von Humboldt Professorships have been awarded since 2009. After Matthias Wessling (2010, Chemical Process Engineering), David di Vicenzo (2011, Quantum Physics, jointly appointed with Forschungszentrum Jülich), Raul Fidel Tempone (2018, Applied Mathematics) and Wil van der Aalst (2018, Computer Science/Process Mining), Hoos is set to become the fifth Humboldt Professor at RWTH.