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Digitality, Data Science and Algorithms

The development of autonomous intelligent systems and ever more advanced computer and software technologies as well as the rapidly progressing digitalization and the accompanying collection and processing of huge quantities of data are probably some of the most wide-ranging technological developments of the early 21st century. Within the framework of this Research Priority Area scientists at JMU investigate the chance and challenges associated with these changes.

Through a new center, defined in 2019 and 2020, this priority area radiates into almost all faculties at JMU. At its core lies the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Data Science (CAIDAS), which is currently under development and represents the data science node within the Bavarian network for artificial intelligence (AI), funded through the High-Tech Agenda of the Free State of Bavaria. The establishment of joint tandem professorships, bridging the research activities at CAIDAS and the various departments of the university, is evidence for the great importance of the data sciences at JMU. The use of AI-based techniques and methods enables researchers across the sciences and humanities to address new research questions, which due to the large amount or heterogeneity of their research data (e.g. image processing) would not have been feasible to pursue until now.  

Research related to artificial intelligence at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science spans back for almost 30 years. Current research activities, among others, concern questions regarding data analytics, algorithms, autonomous systems and virtual reality.

The Focus Area Computing, Systems and Networks, which has emerged from the research fields of classical computer science, is dedicated to research on adaptive, flexible and dynamic structures in networks and clouds. Work within the Focus Area Data Science and Artificial Intelligence concerns research on text, knowledge and information mining methods as well as image and user analysis. Scientists in space informatics at JMU deal with various research topics related to small satellites, such as autonomy, self-organization, distributed systems and formation flying, often through the application of AI-based methods and techniques. The associated Focus Area Aerospace and Robotics represents a truly unique feature of the university. Researchers within the Focus Area Human-Centered Computing address questions regarding the interface between human users and informatics systems. A special focus lies on highly interactive systems of virtual, augmented and mixed realities and involves various aspects of AI-based technologies. 

The mathematicians of JMU also contribute to this priority area through their focus on Optimization and Control, covering topics such as optimization, optimal control, control theory, dynamical systems, inverse problems, scientific computing, imaging and numerical analysis. At the center of the Focus Area Analysis lies research into harmonic and complex analysis, theory and numerics of partial differential equations as well as asymptotic analysis and models. The Focus Area Mathematics Didactics addresses topics including modelling, the use of digital technologies, interdisciplinary integration, concept formation and subject didactics.

The interdisciplinary exchange between researchers of the mathematics and computer sciences will be further fostered through the development of the joint Focus Area Hybrid Intelligence: Foundations, Exploration and Realization, focusing on techniques using artificial intelligence, which combine different aspects of machine learning, data analysis and mathematic modelling. 

Within the Focus Area Psychology of Intelligent Interactive Systems, scientists of the Faculty of Human Sciences investigate topics related to artificial intelligence from a psychological- and life science-based perspective.      

The processing of huge quantities of data is also an integral aspect of the work done within the natural and life sciences. Scientists from the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy explore within the Focus Area Astronomy the high-energy universe, non-stellar objects, non-thermal physical processes, dark matter, and their cosmological evolution. In relation to this work as well as to work within the medical department and the Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology (CCTB) researchers at JMU have recently launched cooperations with scientists at CAIDAS, involving AI-based methods. Moreover, techniques using artificial intelligence open up new possibilities for global earth observation, automated capture of species diversity and changes within ecosystems.

AI-based applications also enable scientists of the Focus Area Digitality and Multimodality from the Faculty of Arts to explore research questions, which so far have not been accessible. In close cooperation with the work performed at CAIDAS researchers of the “Digital Humanities” develop and investigate methods related to quantitative text mining as well as to natural language processing. At the intersection with the university’s Research Priority Area Global Challenges sits the Focus Area From Data to Knowledge – Methods – Narratives – Actors, combining the collection, processing and communication of geographic-geoscientific, historic, societal and literary data.

The Focus Area Education and Communication in a Digital World of the Faculty of Human Sciences connects the Research Priority Area Digitality, Data Science and Algorithms with the Priority Areas Cultural Spheres and Institutions, Norms and Behavior. Within the vast amount of digitally accessible information, there is the need to identify relevant and scientifically sound data while disregarding manipulated information. Informed processing of information from the internet, as well as the reception of knowledge and learning scenarios involving digital media, requires a general understanding of the digital learning contexts as well as the psychological and social processes, which have been triggered through digitalization. Hereto, scientists from the educational sciences, media studies and computer sciences cooperate with each other.  

Digitalization, as well as the development of novel technologies such as rapid prototyping, have changed the way most companies operate profoundly. The Focus Area Digital Transformation of the Faculty of Business Management and Economics explores the chances and challenges for society related to this development, with a focus on the macroeconomy and business economics. In addition, this research focus deals with the development of methods for data-based support of decision-making processes as well as with organizational and strategic aspects of the digital transformation.   

The increased use of AI-based methods also poses urgent questions of legal and ethical importance. The Focus Area Liberty, Security and Law in Times of Digitalization and Globalization of JMU’s Faculty of Law explores the consequences of these developments for statute and law as well as for the finding of justice. Another focus of this research area lies in the code of conduct that companies and businesses under private law, acting within a global supply chain, are required to follow.

In addition, these societal and technological changes open up important philosophical and theological questions. The critical reflection of these developments is the topic of the work that forms the basis of the Focus Area Systematic Theology of the Faculty of Catholic Theology at JMU.