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First TU Wien Informatics Awards

With an award show on all academic levels, we celebrated our most excellent students. Congratulations to all our outstanding awardees!

[Translate to English:] Gruppenfoto ausgezeichnete Studierende

© Amélie Chapalain

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TU Wien Informatics Awards: students that have been awarded in 2023.

[Translate to English:] Rektor Jens Schneider bei seiner Begrüßungsrede beim TU Wien Informatics Award.

© Amélie Chapalain

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Rector Jens Schneider during his welcome speech at the TU Wien Informatics Awards.

On December 4, 2023, we celebrated the faculty’s most outstanding students at the first TU Wien Informatics Awards. This new format provides a platform for recognizing outstanding achievements on a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral level – across all research areas and within the broader TU Wien community.

TU Wien Rector Jens Schneider dedicated his welcome adress to the outstanding students: “TU Wien is a top-ranked university. We need top faculties – like TU Wien Informatics, top research infrastructure, and top teaching, but most importantly: We need you! You are the top 1%, the future of technology for people.”

“We are educating half of the computer science students in Austria. Nurturing, maintaining, and appreciating academic excellence from the very beginning is essential. We want our students to excel, and these awards are proof that our students are accomplishing the extraordinary,” Dean Gerti Kappel emphasized in her welcome address.

The promising students were honored with the Best Master Thesis Award, the Best Dissertation Award, the Siemens Awards for Excellence, and the prestigious Bachelor With Honors Certificates. Host Stefan Woltran, Head of the Research Unit for Databases and AI and Co-Head of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML), guided through an evening of celebrating our students’ achievements. TU Wien Informatics Awards is a follow-up to the former “Epilog” award show, established in 2005. With the new event, the faculty not only hosts two new awards (Best Master and Best Dissertation) but also a ceremony based on a joint celebration within a supportive and visionary community.

Best Master Thesis Award

This year’s winner of the Best Master Thesis Award is Esra Ceylan with her thesis on Optimal Seat Arrangement: Structure, Algorithms, and Complexity. She was supervised by Jiehua Chen from our Research Unit for Algorithms and Complexity. “Optimal Seat Arrangement” is a problem where one aims to assign people to seats while meeting fairness or efficiency, such as ensuring everyone is happy with their seat. Of course, this problem is not only about seating – it mirrors any real-life scenario where people must be assigned specific tasks or resources. For example, in a classroom, you might want to give students seats to maximize their comfort and learning experience. In a company, you might want to allocate office space to employees to ensure efficiency. The challenge lies in its computational complexity (NP-hardness). This means that finding the best solution can be computationally intensive and time-consuming, especially as the number of people and seats increases. The jury concluded that Ceylan’s thesis offers an in-depth analysis of this computational complexity with impressive results. Her research not only extends existing knowledge but also highlights the diversity in the complexity of these problems, providing valuable insights for practical applications.

The two runner-ups for the Best Master Thesis Award are Julian Müllner with his thesis on Exact Inference for Probabilistic Loops supervised by Laura Kovács; and Lukas Herzberger with his thesis entitled Scalable Web-based Multi-Volume Rendering, supervised by Eduard Gröller.

Eleven Master’s graduates were nominated for the Best Master Thesis Award. The jury chaired by Margrit Gelautz considers both the methodological and substantive aspects of each thesis, including the importance & originality of the subject, the quality of the scholarship, its structure, writing, and presentation – after a joint hearing with the nominees. The Best Master Thesis Award is endowed with €1500, and runner-ups receive €750 each.

Best Dissertation Award

The longest thesis was 329 pages, 15 papers were the top publication count, and the most overall citations were 214 – truly, the nine Best Dissertation nominees all stood out. But there can only be one winner: The first Best Dissertation Award of the faculty goes to André Schidler for his research on Scalability for SAT-based Combinatorial Problem Solving. Andreas Steininger, Director of the TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School presented the award. Schidler was supervised by Stefan Szeider at the Research Unit for Algorithms and Complexity.

Imagine you have a complex puzzle with lots of pieces and want to know if it’s even possible to solve it. That’s where SAT solvers come in: they are tools that determine whether a given set of requirements can be satisfied. While these solvers are incredibly fast and can handle many problems, they struggle when problems become too large or too complicated. In his research, Schidler deals with scalability and proposes different methods to overcome these issues. Most importantly, he establishes a new research venue in SAT solving – twin with analysis. His novel approach opens up new possibilities for solving various real-world challenges.

Siemens Award for Excellence

The faculty annually honors the best female Bachelor and Master students with the Siemens Awards for Excellence. Our partners from Siemens AG sponsor the prize endowed with € 1000. Michael Heiss, Principal Consultant Digital Enterprise at Siemens, handed over the certificates to the awardees of the academic year 2022/23: Christina Tüchler (Master), Ana Vesic (Master), Daniela Böhm (Master), Sabrina Herbst (Master), Roxana Dogaru (Bachelor), Dora Bekei (Bachelor), Ivana Bocevska (Bachelor), and Pia Schwarzinger (Bachelor).

Bachelors with Honours

Our excellence program Bachelor with Honors enables the top 5% of students to deepen their knowledge and inspires them to do scientific research at an early stage of their academic careers. Vice Dean of Academic Affairs, Hilda Tellioglu, handed over the certificates to Dominik Apel, Dylan Baumann, Alexander Beiser, Peter Blohm, Thomas Depian, Nikolaus Dräger, Jakob Greilhuber, Michael Kiran Huber, Konrad Klier, Julian Müllner, Sophia Schober, Florentina Voboril and Sebastian Watzinger for their outstanding achievements. Designed as a one-year extension of our regular bachelor programs and comparable to the Anglo-American model, this excellence program is an additional offer to excellent undergraduates. Individual mentoring, an interdisciplinary, flexible approach, and distinct and exclusively performance-based rules are the program’s cornerstones. The Certificates of Honors include a personal letter of recommendation by the Rector of TU Wien.