On October 25, 2018, I gave my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the CSLog research group of Prof. Dr. Nicole Megow at the Fachbereich 3: Mathematik/Informatik, University of Bremen in Bremen, Germany.

The research of the CSLog group is centered on combinatorial optimization, often on the interface between logistics, mathematics, and computer science. They analyze the structure of discrete problems and design efficient algorithms with provable performance guarantees for solving them. Another strand of research is on solving combinatorial problems under incomplete information, as well as the development online, stochastic or robust algorithms. They contribute theoretic results and also apply them in complex real-world environments. The typical application areas are scheduling, production planning, logistics, network design, communication and routing in networks, and health care.

The application areas interesting for CSLog are very similar to those interesting to our team, which made the visit even more interesting for me. The audience of my talk was interested in the presented concepts and we had a nice discussion afterwards. I was very happy to meet Prof. Megow and her group and found the outstanding rigor and quality of their work very impressing. From our discussion, I could take home several new ideas, so the exchange the thoughts was definitely helpful for me. 

On October 24, 2018, I gave my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the Computational Intelligence research group of Prof. Dr. Oliver Kramer at the Department of Computing Science, School of Computing Science, Business Administration, Economics, and Law of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in Oldenburg, Germany.

The Computational Intelligence group contributes research on many topics centered around evolution strategies and deep learning. Prof. Kramer is particularly focused on recurrent, convolutional, as well as large-scale neural networks, often in relationship with optimization methods such as evolutionary algorithms or swarm intelligence approaches. Other fields the group works on are dynamic and multi-objective optimization, scheduling, and machine learning for optimization or marine time series.

After having worked with Prof. Kramer on two papers remotely, I was very excited and happy to finally meet him in person. It was also very nice to present our work, which uses machine learning to analyze optimization algorithm performance, in front of a group that, too, combines machine learning and optimization. My talk was well-received and led to very nice discussions afterwards. I also had the chance to attend two Master's thesis presentations, which were both very interesting. What impressed a lot was the high enthusiasm for their subject that all of the team members of Prof. Kramer showed – enthusiasm which leads to excellent results.

On October 23, 2018, I gave my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the Distributed Systems Group of Prof. Dr. Kurt Geihs of the Fachbereich 16: Elektrotechnik/Informatik of my old university, the University of Kassel, in Germany.

The Distributed Systems research group of the University of Kassel in Germany addresses in teaching and research a broad spectrum of distributed computing topics. Its subjects range from theoretical foundations to applied system and software engineering issues. Its current research areas are the design and implementation of context-aware and adaptive distributed systems, cooperative autonomous robots, socially aware computing, and service-oriented architectures. A lot of interesting research contributions have resulted from their excellent robotic soccer team. Here, challenges from such diverse fields as vision, behavior modeling, artificial intelligence, dynamic software configuration, multicast communication, reasoning, and even mechanical and electrical engineering have been tackled.

After my short visit last year, it was a great pleasure to meet my PhD supervisor, Prof. Dr. Kurt Geihs, again and give a talk at the group where I did my PhD almost ten years ago. As always here, the atmosphere is really nice and there was an interesting discussion wit the audience after the talk.

On October 22, 2018, I gave my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization in Stuttgart, Germany and visited the Institute of Industrial Automation and Software Engineering (IAS) at the University of Stuttgart, where I was hosted by the Deputy Head Dr.-Ing. Nasser Jazdi, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), where I was hosted by Joachim Lentes, the leader of the Competence Team Digital Engineering.

The Institute of Industrial Automation and Software Engineering aims to bridge between industrial automation and software engineering. Its research is focused on improving the flexibility and reliability of automation systems and the engineering of cyber physical automation systems. They investigate aspects of software development, the reliability and learning capabilities of automotive systems as well as web and app technologies in automation environments. The IAS conducts projects with research institutes as well as industrial companies. Dr. Jazdi conducts research on software reliability in the context of IoT, learning ability for industrial automation, and artificial intelligence in industrial automation as well as digital twins. The IAS also has many very interesting research, demonstration, and student experiment platforms in the field of intelligent production.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering has the same abbreviation as our group, namely IAO. It works together with companies and the public-sector to develop strategies, business models, and solutions for digital transformation. For their partners, the IAO develops and implements solutions for human-machine interaction, innovation, and technology strategies, application of virtual and augmented reality (they have developed a very impressive cave), cognitive systems and artificial intelligence, as well as sustainable solutions for the mobility and cities of tomorrow. The overall goal of the institute is to improve the ways in which people, organizations and technology interact. Under the leadership of Mr. Lentes, the Competence Team Digital Engineering conducts research on new methods to make companies more competitive by utilizing fresh ideas and innovative IT. He likes to bridge between different company divisions, disciplines, and even between different companies to create industrial symbioses.

Dr. Jazdi and Mr. Lentes visited our university in May, and it was a pleasure to meet them again. I am thankful for their great hospitality and for the time they took to show me around and to discuss with me. I had the chance to get very interesting tours through both institutes and the university as well as the impressive Arena 2036, a platform where many smart manufacturing technologies are developed. My presentations were received well by both teams and we had nice discussions.

On October 19, 2018, I gave my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the Information Systems & Business Administration chair of Prof. Dr. Franz Rothlauf at Faculty of Law, Management and Economics faculty of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU, Johannes Gutenberg Universität) in Mainz, Germany.

The main research aims of the chair of Information Systems & Business Administration concern simulation and optimization processes as well as E-Business and modelling. Its application aims deal with network planning and combinatorial optimization in varying areas of economics. They have, for instance, developed a very efficient Estimation of Distribution Algorithm (EDA) for bit-string based problems. The group collaborates with several industry partners, including HRS, Avinomics GmbH, BridgingIT GmbH, EnBW AG, t.e.a.m. AG, and McKinsey.

Several times I have attended Prof. Rothlauf's always interesting tutorials at the GECCO conferences and I can only recommend them. He is one of the corner stones of the Evolutionary Computation community. His books Design of Modern Heuristics: Principles and Application and Representations for Genetic and Evolutionary Algorithms belong to the standard canon of Evolutionary Computation literature. He also has published more than 90 technical papers in the context of planning and optimization, evolutionary computation, e-business, and software engineering, co-edited several conference proceedings and edited books.

Meeting this group and Prof. Rothlauf at the JGU was a very nice experience and I am thankful that the talk was visited well.

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