Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for Artificial Intelligence 2022

Sven Koenig

Sven Koenig is a leading researcher in decision-making and action planning in systems involving artificial intelligence. At Ulm University, he is invited to close the gap in German AI research in this field.

  • Nominating University: Ulm University
Potrait of Sven König
Saturn-ähnliches Dekortationsbild


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Collaborative systems

Let’s take a peek at the enormous warehouse of a well-known online retailer: narrow corridors, sky-high shelves, nowhere to escape to. New orders arrive by the second, goods have to be collected from the shelves and brought to collection points – a job that can now be done by robots. But when hundreds of robots are pushing baskets of goods through narrow passageways, how can you be sure that they are completing their tasks in a sensible order, taking the shortest route to the next collection location without getting in each other’s way or even colliding? Issues relating to task assignment and route planning for multiple actors are explored in the research area known as Multi-Agent Path Finding (MAPF), Sven Koenig’s special field.

But before it can be used in practice, the relevant algorithms for programming the robots have to be developed and the models optimised. In one outstanding piece of work, Sven Koenig used a raft of existing techniques deriving from optimisation and machine learning to play through solution methods, including suboptimum ones, until he found an efficient MAPF algorithm that guided the robots to their tasks without bumping into one another.

At Ulm University, Sven Koenig is set to the become the director of the Research Center for Intelligent Collaborating Systems. His expertise in intelligent collaborating systems will reinforce the research approach to knowledge-based AI and machine learning. Collaboration with the Institute of Neural Information Processing is planned.

Sven Koenig has been selected to receive a Humboldt Professorship and is currently conducting negotiations with the German university that nominated him for the award. If negotiations are successful, the award will be granted in 2022.

Sven Koenig: website 

Brief bio

Hailing from Germany, Professor Dr Sven Koenig completed his doctorate in computer sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, United States, in 1997 and was an assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States, until 2003. Since then, he has been working at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States, becoming a full professor in 2011. Koenig’s activities have earned him numerous honours, including an annual Amazon Research Award since 2018. He is a fellow of learned societies, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).