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    Humboldt Professorship for Computer Science


    The University of Würzburg was again successful in the competition for an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. Computer scientist Radu Timofte is set to join the university as an expert in the field of computer vision.

    Dr Radu Timofte
    Dr Radu Timofte (Image: Carlos Eduardo Porto de Oliveira)

    "Computer Vision": Radu Timofte is an expert in this field – a field with high relevance to everyday life. Because whether it is smartphones, traffic detectors, or medical imaging: High-quality images have become commonplace in many areas of our daily lives, and in some situations they are even vital.

    Timofte's work has had a profound impact on research in image super-resolution (SR). SR techniques can be used to increase the resolution of images and thus also enhance the perception of information. Using sophisticated imaging models combined with advanced machine learning techniques, Timofte has repeatedly made outstanding contributions to the field of computer vision.

    Timofte is currently doing research at ETH Zurich, where he is a group leader in the "Computer Vision Group". That could change soon now that the University of Würzburg has successfully nominated him as a Humboldt Professor. If Timofte accepts the professorship – negotiations are currently underway – he might join the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Würzburg as early as the winter semester of 2021/22.

    Endowed with five million euros

    The Humboldt Professorships aim to bring leading researchers who have previously worked abroad to Germany. The award is presented by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In disciplines such as computer science, a Humboldt Professorship is endowed with five million euros.

    The goal is to give German universities the opportunity to provide internationally competitive conditions to highly qualified persons and to further raise their profile in the face of global competition. The model provides for the professorship to be financed by the federal government for the first five years and then to be taken over by the appointing university.

    Smart cameras and traffic lights

    Timofte's research results are the basis for numerous applications and have already led to several industrial projects and start-ups. Image enhancement and processing of smartphones, design of smart cameras, 3D mapping of road signs, methods for estimating biometric data or pedestrian detectors in smart traffic lights are just a few examples that benefit from his calculations.

    In Würzburg, Radu Timofte's work on image enhancement will link different research areas in the future. Würzburg is already a hub for data science in the AI network in Bavaria. The Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science (CAIDAS) was founded at the university for this purpose and will be expanded further.

    The Humboldt Professorship of Radu Timofte, who is to take over the Chair of Computer Vision, will become an important pillar of this center and, in conjunction with the top researchers already brought together there, will profile JMU as a globally visible research location for AI in Data Sciences.

    Interdisciplinary research center planned

    The goal is to link research on methods of data science with fields of application in science and to boost the know-how for science and society. Biology and image processing are to be networked in a new Interdisciplinary Super-Resolution Research Center (ISRC).

    One of the driving forces at the University of Würzburg behind the nomination of Radu Timofte as Humboldt Professor was – in addition to the university management – Professor Andreas Hotho, who holds the Chair of Computer Science X (Data Science), in his capacity as the spokesperson for CAIDAS. "We are very pleased with Dr. Timofte's successful nomination," said Hotho, welcoming the Foundation's decision. "Dr. Timofte is a recognized expert in the field of computer vision and image enhancement using machine learning. With his expertise, he will strengthen research at the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science at the University of Würzburg in a central position and network it internationally."

    University President Paul Pauli agrees: "This second success of JMU in the competition for a Humboldt Professorship in just a few years shows that the University of Würzburg has a very good international standing. With its focal areas and the services it offers, it is in a position to provide top researchers with an attractive environment for their work. With Dr. Timofte, it can now significantly expand the expertise it already has in such a promising field of research as artificial intelligence and machine learning."

    About Radu Timofte

    Dr. Radu Timofte began his academic career in his native country Romania. After working in Finland and the Czech Republic, he completed his PhD at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, in 2013 before moving to ETH Zurich, Switzerland, as a postdoc. He is currently a lecturer and group leader there, as well as a lecturer at the Technical University of Iasi, Romania.

    Timofte's research has won several awards. In 2012, he received a Best Scientific Paper Award from the International Conference on Pattern Recognition. He and his team also won various competitions, such as the AIM Real World Super-Resolution Challenge at the ICCV 2019 International Conference.

    Second Humboldt Professorship in two years

    The University of Würzburg's last success in the competition for Humboldt Professorships was in 2019. At the time, it had nominated Stefanie Petermichl, one of the world's leading researchers in the field of harmonic analysis. Petermichl has since been building an interdisciplinary research center for mathematics at the university. The topping-out ceremony for the new building required for this purpose was recently celebrated.

    Web link

    Further information, contacts, pictures and video portraits of the current award winners are available at www.humboldt-professur.de

    By Gunnar Bartsch