Great success for the Department of Mathematics: DFG approves new Research Training Group

Prof. Dr. Stefan Ruzika. Foto: RPTU, Koziel
Professor Stefan Ruzika is the spokesperson for the new Research Training Group. Photo: RPTU, Koziel

The Grants Committee of the German Research Foundation (DFG) has decided to fund a new Research Training Group "Mathematics of Interdisciplinary Multiobjective Optimisation (MIMO)". As part of the Research Training Group, scientists from the Optimisation Group will work together with colleagues from computer science and engineering as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM) to research how complex problems can be solved in the best possible way in different application contexts - especially when several conflicting criteria or objectives come into play. On the basis of multi-criteria optimisation, mathematical decision-making aids are to be provided for such applications and, thus, theoretically described methods are to be transferred into practice. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project with around seven million euros over the next five years.

Further information can be found in the RPTU press release of 13 May 2024:

"There are conflicting goals in almost all practical issues, especially between quality and costs," explains Professor Dr Stefan Ruzika, spokesperson for the new research training group. "Multi-criteria optimisation can help with the trade-offs by calculating the best possible compromises."

The mathematical foundations for application-specific calculation models are to be developed as part of MIMO. "Our theory can be applied in many different ways. For example, we not only deal with the systematic planning of transport processes, but also with the optimisation of radiotherapy for cancer treatment. The aim here is to compute individualised treatment plans that destroy the tumour but spare surrounding healthy tissue and organs as much as possible," says Professor Dr Anita Schöbel, deputy spokesperson of the Research Training Group and head of the ITWM. Both sub-projects are based on preliminary work carried out by RPTU and the Fraunhofer ITWM and will provide the basis for software development.

Other sub-projects deal with the optimisation of molecular models and microelectronic components used in computers. "Last but not least, we are also looking at an area that is still virtually unexplored: the question of how to make good decisions in multi-criteria optimisation problems when data is vague or uncertain," adds Ruzika.

Pareto optimisation is the mathematical approach used by the research team: "We calculate a set of possible solutions," explains the mathematician. "This set can be in the form of distributed points or continuous structures. We pick out those possible solutions that are not dominated by others - in other words, that cannot be improved in all objectives at the same time."

Qualifying young researchers

"The approval of the MIMO Research Training Group is a great success for us, which we have worked hard to achieve. It shows the high quality of research at the Department of Mathematics and the great networking with other disciplines," says a delighted Professor Dr Werner R. Thiel, Vice President for Research at RPTU in Kaiserslautern. "The scientists involved have been conducting research together for a long time. One of the things that gives them visibility is the close collaboration within the framework of the state RLP's research initiative, which helps us to build bridges from mathematical theory to real-life applications."

The aim of the Research Training Group is also to qualify the next generation of scientists at a high level. "We are training experts who not only master the tools of the trade of mathematical optimisation, but also constantly rethink the underlying system depending on the application," emphasises Ruzika. Thanks to the funding, RPTU, together with the Fraunhofer ITWM, can create up to 20 doctoral positions under the umbrella of MIMO.

Clemens Hoch, Rhineland-Palatinate's Minister of Science, added: "I am delighted that the RPTU, together with the Fraunhofer ITWM in Kaiserslautern, has succeeded in acquiring a new research training group and thus third-party funding totalling seven million euros. The Kaiserslautern location was able to impress with its interdisciplinary orientation in mathematics and the combination of basic and applied research. We have supported this area of potential through the state's research initiative; I am therefore particularly pleased about the current third-party funding success. The Research Training Group will not only generate enormous application potential from its research, but will also provide excellent training for scientific specialists. I congratulate everyone involved in this success."

About Research Training Groups of the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Research Training Groups are university institutions that promote early career researchers and are funded by the DFG for a maximum of nine years. The focus is on the qualification of doctoral students within the framework of a thematically focused research programme and a structured qualification concept. An interdisciplinary orientation of the Research Training Groups is desired. The aim is to prepare doctoral students intensively for the complex "science" labour market and at the same time to support their early scientific independence.
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Prof. Dr. Stefan Ruzika. Foto: RPTU, Koziel
Professor Stefan Ruzika is the spokesperson for the new Research Training Group. Photo: RPTU, Koziel