Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for Artificial Intelligence 2022

Angela Yu

At the Centre for Cognitive Science at TU Darmstadt, the adaptive and intelligent behaviour of humans and machines is a focus of research. Endowed with a Humboldt Professorship, Angela Yu is invited to assume a bridging function there between artificial intelligence and the neurosciences.

  • Nominating University: TU Darmstadt
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Computational neuroscience

How is information in the brain represented, computed and used to generate intelligent behaviour? Which neural and computational processes occur in relation to various mental and cerebral organic disorders? These are some of the concrete questions investigated by the mathematician and neuroscientist Angela Yu. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that combines theoretical and experimental methods, she wants to establish calculation principles for important cognitive functions such as seeing, learning and decision-making.

Currently, Yu is working on human facial recognition. In this field, machine learning methods produce comparable or even better results than humans when it comes to identifying facial expressions and changes in facial characteristics. However, these black box methods are not able to explain how the human brain processes faces. Using complex modelling, Angela Yu wants to find answers to this question and acquire a fundamental understanding of human facial processing.

Angela Yu’s Humboldt Professorship is designed to reinforce theoretical and methodological core expertise at TU Darmstadt and promote the integration of AI and cognitive science. Darmstadt is a major hub for AI research in Germany: the city is home to the Hessian Center for Artificial Intelligence ( that is operated by 13 universities. Moreover, TU Darmstadt aims to develop comprehensive research competence in human-centred AI. At its Centre for Cognitive Science, computer-assisted solutions and algorithms for sophisticated AI and machine learning problems are developed; insights derived from AI and ML are also used in psychology, kinesiology and neuroscience. How cognitive science can help to improve future interaction with AI is an additional focus of attention.

Angela Yu at the University of California San Diego 

Brief bio

Professor Dr Angela Yu studied computer science, theoretical mathematics and cognitive science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States, completing her doctorate at University College London in 2005. She then returned to the United States as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University. She has spent time in Germany, Portugal, Japan and Switzerland. Since 2014, she has been an associate professor at the University of California San Diego, United States, where she heads the Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. She publishes across disciplines in psychology and cognitive science journals as well as in the neurosciences, AI and machine learning.

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