Distinguished Lectures

Distinguished Lectures (2017)

We are honored to host the following speakers:


 CHRISTOPH BENZMüLLER, PD, Dr. habil, Dept of Mathematics and Computer Science, FU Berlin, Germany

Computational Metaphysics: The Virtues of Formal Computer Proofs Beyond Maths

Time and Place: Monday, 27 March 2017, 16h00 s.t.; Room (Campus Belval)


Formal computer proofs - irrespective of being developed interactively with modern proof assistants, fully automatically by automated theorem provers, or in a combination of both - are still rather unpopular amongst many mathematicians. Benzmüller will challenge this stance and point to recent success stories of computer-assisted proofs in maths and beyond. In particular, he will demonstrate how the rigorous assessment of rational arguments in philosophy can be fruitfully supported by modern theorem proving technology. A prominent example includes the “Ontological Argument for the Existence of God“ for which even relevant new insights were recently revealed by automated theorem provers. The latter research activities have inspired the conception of a new, awarded lecture course on “Computational Metaphysics“ at Freie Universität Berlin which brings together students from computer science, maths and philosophy.


Christoph Benzmüller is affiliated as Privatdozent for Computer Science and Mathematics with Freie Universität Berlin and Saarland University, Saarbrücken. Currently, he is visiting University of Luxemburg. Previous research stations of Christoph include Stanford University, USA (visiting scholar), Articulate Software, USA (senior researcher), Intl. University of Germany, Bruchsal (full professor), University of Cambridge, UK (senior researcher), Saarland University (associate professor), University of Birmingham, UK and the University of Edinburgh, UK (postdoc). Christoph received his PhD (1999) and his Habilitation (2007) in computer science from Saarland University. His PhD was partly conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, USA. In 2012, Christoph had been awarded with a Heisenberg Research Fellowship of the German National Research Foundation (DFG). Christoph is an expert in higher-order automated and interactive theorem proving, which he utilises as a basis for an approach towards universal logic reasoning. His broader interests concern all aspects of knowledge representation and reasoning. Moreover, Christoph is well known for his interdisciplinary applications. Most recently, for example, he has pioneered, together with colleagues, the area of computational metaphysics. Christoph is trustee and vice-president of CADE (Conference on Automated Deduction), board member of AAR (Association of Automated Reasoning) and spokesman of the section Deduction Systems of the Gesellschaft für Informatik. He serves in various further functions (chair, editorial board, steering committee, trustee, etc.) for various conferences and organisations.


 MADY DELVAUX-STEHRES, European Parliament

Civil Law Rules on Robotics

Time and Place: Monday, 20 March 2017, 10h00 s.t.; Room tbd (Campus Belval or Campus Kirchberg)


Social assistive robots, cyber-physical systems in Industry or Artificial Intelligence (AI) are no longer a concepts in science fiction. We are living through a new Industrial Revolution and it is changing our society. In this context the new agents surpass current laws and now it is necessary to adapt civil rules and to create robot regulations to face the new scenario.


to come


 James Cochran, Professor of Statistics, Department of Computer Science, University of Alabama, USA

The importance of Collective Science

Time and Place: Monday, 30 January 2017, 15h00 s.t.; Room E.112 (Campus Kirchberg)


The scientific method, which is embodied by statistical inference, is the heart of who we are and what we do as an academic community (which is why some, including me, argue that statistics is the purest of the sciences). Unfortunately, although we may individually think and act scientifically, collectively we often fail to do so. This has led in numerous instances to nonscientific collective behavior. In addition to dramatically retarding the progress of science, this collective behavior has led to misunderstanding of science by the non-scientific community, co-opting of science by the business community, and poor decision making by policy makers those who have relied on the results of our research efforts. In this talk I will address the lack of collective scientific behavior in research on the relative age effect and the ramifications that have resulted. Specifically, I will discuss the i) lack of appreciation for results that are not statistically significant, ii) disregard for conditions that are necessary for establishing a relationship between an antecedent event and a consequent event, and iii) failure to consider, establish, and test appropriate null and alternative hypotheses. I will also present what I believe are appropriate corrective measures.


James J. Cochran is Professor of Statistics, Rogers-Spivey Faculty Fellow, and Head of the Department of Information Systems, Statistics and Management Science at The University of Alabama. He earned a PhD in Statistics from the University of Cincinnati in 1997, and he has been a Visiting Scholar with Stanford University, the University of South Africa, the Universidad de Talca, and Pôle Universitaire Léonard De Vinci. Professor Cochran was a founding co-chair of Statistics Without Borders and a member of the founding committee for INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics initiative. He established INFORMS’ Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium series and annual case competition. In 2005 Professor Cochran established the International Education Workshop series; through this series colloquia have been held in Uruguay, South Africa, Colombia, Tanzania, Argentina, Kenya, India, Fiji, Croatia, Nepal, Cuba, and Mongolia (with plans for upcoming colloquia in Moldova, Madagascar, and Romania). In 2008 he organized the 2008 ORPA Conference on Using Operations Research to Address Urban Transport and Water Resource Management Issues in Africa. Professor Cochran is founding Editor-in-Chief of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Wiley Series in Operations Research and Management Science as well as the forthcoming Guide to the Analytics Body of Knowledge. He has published over forty research articles and a dozen book chapters, and he is coauthor of seven textbooks in statistics, operations research, and analytics. He has served as a consultant to a wide variety of corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations around the world. He served as Editor-in-Chief of INFORMS Transactions on Education and serves on the boards of several journals. In 2006 Professor Cochran was elected to the International Statistics Institute, in 2008 he received the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice, in 2010 he received the Mu Sigma Rho Statistical Education Award, and in 2011 he was named a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. In 2014 he became the 86th recipient of the American Statistical Association’s Founders Award, and in 2015 he received the Karl E. Peace Award for outstanding statistical contributions for the betterment of society.