From October 20 to 25, 2019, our Profs. Möhring and Weise took part in the Dagstuhl Seminar 19431 with the topic Theory of Randomized Optimization Heuristics, organized by Dr. Carola Doerr (Sorbonne University, Paris, France), Carlos M. Fonseca (University of Coimbra, Portugal), Tobias Friedrich, (Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Potsdam, Germany), and Xin Yao (Southern University of Science and Technology, China). Dagstuhl Seminars are invitation-based meetings taking place in Schloss Dagstuhl, a castle located slightly remotely near the city of Wadern, Germany. The remote location is intentional: Here, researchers can meet for, say, five days, to have in-depth discussions without distractions. This is what Dagstuhl Seminars are, and we were very happy and felt honoured to be invited to attend the seminar on theory on randomized optimization heuristics. Not only did the seminar give us the chance to catch up with old friends and plan future collaborations, there we also very interesting and fruitful research discussions. I (Thomas Weise) was particularly happy to see that the topic of benchmarking and algorithm configuration also becomes more and more interesting for theoreticians. I also learned a lot about the progress that theory on optimization has made the past few years. In summary, the seminar was a very very nice event which indeed brought us one or two steps forward in our research. Many thanks to the organizers for doing such a great job!

P.S. This was a very highly productive meeting. Here, the foundations for two works were laid, as shown below. The first work is as a joint efforts of a larger group of international researchers and the second one is by our IAO team:

  • Thomas Bartz-Beielstein, Carola Doerr, Jakob Bossek, Sowmya Chandrasekaran, Tome Eftimov, Andreas Fischbach, Pascal Kerschke, Manuel López-Ibáñez, Katherine M. Malan, Jason H. Moore, Boris Naujoks, Patryk Orzechowski, Vanessa Volz, Markus Wagner, Thomas Weise. Benchmarking in Optimization: Best Practice and Open Issues. Technical report available at arXiv:2007.03488v1 [cs.NE] 7 Jul 2020.
    pdf / pdf@arxiv
  • Thomas Weise, Zhize Wu, Xinlu Li, and Yan Chen. Frequency Fitness Assignment: Making Optimization Algorithms Invariant under Bijective Transformations of the Objective Function Value. Submitted to IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation in January 2020. Preprint available at arXiv:2001.01416v3 [cs.NE] 17 Jun 2020.
    pdf / paper@arxiv / experimental results and source code data set @ doi:10.5281/zenodo.3899474

Today, I attended the Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China for People from all Walks of Life [壮丽70年奋斗新时代:合肥市各界人士迎国庆茶话会]. The city hall prepared a wonderful celebration in which people from entirely different careers could participate, ranging from monks and religious leaders over army officers to businessmen and researchers. Accompanied by an exhibition of calligraphy and started with ceremonial speeches, a very nice program of excellent singers and dancers was presented. Indeed, this was a very nice celebration of this important anniversary of China.

On September 19, 2019, I had the honor to take part in the Forum on Mobility of European Researchers in China taking place in the Delegation of the European Union to China [欧洲联盟驻华代表处]. About 100 researchers at all career levels and from a variety of European countries who work or study in China took part in this meeting. Currently, there are significantly more Chinese scientists contributing research in Europe than there are European researchers working in China. In this meeting, the goal therefore was to gather input about the situation of us foreign researchers in China, our success stories, the positive experiences, but also where we see opportunities for further improving conditions and raising the attractiveness of the Chinese environment for European researchers. The Delegation of the European Union will collected and compile the suggestions and ideas raised in this meeting in order to include them in a dialog between Europe and China. The goal is to increase the amount of researchers moving in both directions. Scientific exchange is of a very high importance for the advancement of research and technology – and what can better improve the exchange of ideas than the exchange of the best heads containing them?

On September 7, 2019, a press meeting was held in the new and beautiful Chinese-German Incubator Building of Hefei University [合肥学院], during which international experts described their point of view on working and living in our city Hefei [合肥]. Hefei is the fastest-growing city in China and, during the past few years, has become one of most internationalized ones as well. Indeed, it ranks third in terms of popularity rated by foreign experts for two consecutive years. One reason why many foreigners would come here may be the rich academic landscape that has made Hefei a motor of innovation and which has also strongly influenced the local industry. Hefei has excellent universities, including, but not limited to, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) [中国科学技术大学], Anhui University [安徽大学], Hefei University of Technology [合肥工业大学], Anhui Agricultural University [安徽农业大学], Anhui Medical University [安徽医科大学], and, of course, our Hefei University [合肥学院]. The different unis in Hefei cover all fields of science and also all types of research: While USTC, e.g., is a world-leading institution in fundamental research and attracts top sciences, e.g., in physics, from all over the world, our Hefei University is strong in applied research and leading in the adaptation of the dual system of cooperative education to Chinese needs and has attracted many international experts with its Demonstration Base of Sino-German Educational Cooperation [中德教育合作示范基地]. In order to investigate why Hefei's popularity as a place for foreigners in China has become so high, reporters from several newspapers and media outlets therefore conducted several interviews with international experts in Hefei and also visited our Hefei Economic and Technological Development Area [经济技术开发区]. In the interviews conducted here, Olaf Rack (Industrial Design) and Thomas Weise (Computer Science, Optimization, Operations Research) from our university took part, together with Manfred Beuche (Sievert) and SEO Young Hwan (Anhui Wanlang Magneto Plastic). I think among all experts, a general consensus is that Hefei offers a very nice environment, excellent living and working conditions, that Hefei and our hosting institutions take excellent care of their guests and offer great support on all levels.

On September 2nd, 2019, I had the honor to be one of the foreign experts taking part in the Foreign Experts Consultation Symposium on the 2021-2035 National Medium- and Long-Term National Science and Technology Development Plan [2021-2035年国家中长期科学和技术发展规划外国专家座谈会]. The meeting took place in the Hefei Municipal Government Conference Center [合肥市政府会议中心]. It was hosted by Qingqun XU [徐庆群], the Editor-in-Chief of two periodicals of the Foreign Talent Research Center, Ministry of Science and Technology (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) and opened with a speech by Zhengmao XIE [解正茂], Deputy Director of the Division of Foreign Experts Services, Anhui Provincian Department of Science and Technology (Provincial Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs). During the meeting, each expert gave a short statement regarding which major challenges and opportunities they see for the scientific and technological development of China in the next 15 years, as well as which fields of research they perceive as particularly important for a successful development and how they think the internationalization of Chinese institutions can further be improved. The panel of experts included Prof. Dr. Christa Fittschen of the University of Lille and CNRS (France), Professors Dr. Zachary Smith and Dr. Kaiqin Chu of USTC, Prof. Dr. Nikolay Morozov of the Sino-Russian Superconducting Proton Joint Research Center, Patrick Félix Simon Solé of Anhui University, Prof. Dr. Claus Thomas Weise, and Mr. Jean-Lou Collet of CNSG Anhui Hong Sifang Co. Ltd. The meeting ended with a summary speech by Haiyang WANG [王海洋], Deputy Director of the Foreign Talent Research Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs).

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