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EU Funds for Polish Computer Scientist
October 29, 2010   
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Polish computer scientist Piotr Sankowski of the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Information Science will receive research funding from the European Research Council as part of its 3rd Starting Independent Researcher Grant program.

Sankowski’s project, called Practical Approximation Algorithms (PAAL), received high marks from reviewers, making the researcher eligible for up to 1.5 million euros in research funding.
The Starting Independent Researcher Grant program is intended for young European scientists and academics with doctoral degrees. The program aims to help them develop their careers and become independent researchers.

Sankowski, aged 32, has earned recognition for his research into problems at the interface of computing and physics. His main research interest is in approximation algorithms, which are used to find approximate solutions to optimization problems. There are many problems in the case of which approximation algorithms are far more efficient than other algorithms that provide exact solutions. Therefore, approximation algorithms are applied when it is crucial to obtain a solution quickly while some degree of inaccuracy is permissible.

In his project, Sankowski applies research methods used in computing and physics. He holds doctoral degrees in both disciplines. Experts say his findings are innovative, concern many research problems and may find numerous practical applications.

Apart from approximation algorithms, Sankowski deals with graph problems, dynamic, stochastic and Monte Carlo algorithms, ab initio computational methods, spintronics, solid-state physics and quantum computers. His most important research work focuses on finding new, more efficient algorithms to solve such problems as finding and counting matchings in graphs or dynamic shortest path finding.

Since 2005 Sankowski has been an assistant lecturer at the University of Warsaw Institute of Information Science. Earlier, he worked for several German research institutions: Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Max Planck Institute for Computer Science, Walter Schottky Institute in Munich, and the University of Bonn.

Sankowski is the fourth Polish researcher to have received a research grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Last year similar research grants went to Prof. Mikołaj Bojańczyk of the University of Warsaw Institute of Information Science and Natalia Letki, Ph.D., of the University of Warsaw Institute of Sociology. Prof. Tomasz Dietl of the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw and Prof. Andrzej Udalski from the university’s Astronomical Observatory were singled out for praise in the Advanced Investigators Grant program run by the ERC.

The European Research Council was set up by the European Commission in 2007 as part of the EU’s 7th Research Framework Program. With a budget of 7.5 billion euros, the ERC is the first EU funding body established to support frontier research, that is pioneering basic research leading to fundamental discoveries and groundbreaking findings.

The ERC’s Scientific Council is composed of 22 eminent European scientists and scholars from 17 countries. The ERC’s president is now Prof. Helga Nowotny of Austria. Poland is represented by Prof. Michał Kleiber, president of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Julia Pawłowska
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