Ph.D. student wins PACE Challenge

Lukas Larisch (center), a KAUST Ph.D. student in computer science, won the Parameterized Algorithms and Computational Experiments (PACE) 2017 Challenge in September. Here he receives his award in Vienna, Austria. Photo courtesy of Lukas Larisch.

- By Francesca Serra, KAUST News

Lukas Larisch, a KAUST Ph.D. student in computer science under the supervision of Professor Gabriel Wittum, recently won the Parameterized Algorithms and Computational Experiments (PACE) 2017 Challenge. He received the award during the ALGO Congress at the International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2017) held in Vienna, Austria, in September.

Larisch shone in Track A of the competition, coming in first place in the Optimal Tree Decomposition Challenge, where he won by solving more instances than competitors. He also got an honor position in the Heuristic Tree Decomposition Challenge.

"Parameterized complexity is well-suited to the KAUST Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering division's goal of crossing borders with other scientific disciplines," said Frances Rosamond, professor of computer science at the University of Bergen and chair of the PACE Challenge. "The results of this year were very impressive, as they were two orders of magnitude faster than the ones of the previous editions. Lukas is a young star in the field of parameterized complexity."

Larisch earned his bachelor's degree in computer science from Goethe University Frankfurt (Germany) in 2016. In the same year, he took part in the PACE 2016 program committee. After spending some time at the University of Leeds (U.K.) as a research scientist, he moved to KAUST to pursue a Ph.D. and work in the University's Extreme Computing Research Center.

Despite his excellent results in graph theory, Larisch's true passions lie in classical music and the mathematical harmony that regulates musical instruments.

"For my Ph.D. thesis, I want to continue research on understanding how musical instruments work, just as Pythagoras did. For this purpose, we are creating a laboratory dedicated to acoustics here at KAUST," Larisch noted. "Besides my work in acoustics, I will continue my research in graph structure theory and in implementations of free and open source libraries."

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