News and Events: New Appointments

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New ILLC professor: Ronald de Wolf

The ILLC welcomes Prof. Dr. R.M. (Ronald) de Wolf, who will be the new part-time professor of Theoretical Computer Science as per March 1, 2011. Ronald will succeed Paul Vitanyi who retired in the summer of 2009, and in this role sustain and renew the long term cooperation in the field of Computer Science between the ILLC and the CWI.

Ronald de Wolf studied computer science at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 1996, he obtained his Master's degree cum laude. His thesis, written under supervision of Dr. Nienhuys-Cheng entitled, "Contributions to Inductive Logic Programming," was part of a textbook written by the same two authors entitled "Foundations of Inductive Logic Programming." More or less at the same time Ronald obtained his Master's degree (also cum laude) in Philosophy with his thesis "Philosophical Applications of Computational Learning Theory" under supervision of Dr. G.J. Lokhorst. After his studies, Ronald did a PhD in quantum computing at the CWI and obtained his degree (also cum laude) on the thesis "Quantum Computing and Communication Complexity" with Harry Buhrman and Paul Vitanyi.

Ronald's research, which has made him a leader in Theoretical Computer Science, covers a variety of topics. His thesis is an excellent introduction into quantum computing and has several breakthrough results is this field, in particular the polynomial method for proving lower bounds on the complexity of quantum algorithms. Besides that it introduces the, then mainly unexplored, field of quantum communication complexity and algebraic methods that give both upper and lower bounds on the quantum communication complexity of several problems. This has greatly increased the insight in the similarities and differences between the classical and quantum situation.

After his PhD defense, de Wolf's research has developed along several lines. His work in coding theory, expressed in a series of papers on locally decodable codes, enjoys international fame. The theory on quantum codes, developed by de Wolf, turned out to be applicable on classical codes, in the sense that if classical codes would exist, they could be converted to quantum codes that would contradict known results in quantum information theory. Thus, the Wolf showed that theory developed for and on quantum computers could be used for obtaining bounds in classical computer science, which gives an extra value of this theory independent of the development of experimental implementation of quantum machine models. Ties between quantum and classical theoretical computer science form one of the main focuses of de Wolf's research. Research that also extends more and more along the lines of classical computer science, like data structures and the complexity of Boolean functions.

Much praised are also de Wolf's educational qualities, shown by his excellent talks on conferences and colloquia. Ronald will teach several courses in the Master of Logic programme on quantum computing and combinatorics.

We hope and expect that the ILLC will benefit greatly from the Wolf's inspiring research and teachings and wish him a great time at the ILLC!

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