17 April 2023

Large grant for world-class research in algorithms


Professor Mikkel Thorup from the Department of Computer Science receives a grant of DKK 29.5 million from the VILLUM foundation to continue his successful basic research centre, Basic Algorithms Research Copenhagen (BARC).

Portrait of Professor Mikkel Thorup
Professor Mikkel Thorup is one of the world's leading experts in algorithms and data structures.

Copenhagen is home to some of the world's brilliant minds within algorithmics. Since the BARC research centre was established in 2017 with an initial grant of DKK 40 million from the VILLUM foundation, the centre's renowned researchers have time and again made mathematical breakthroughs and contributed with award-winning solutions to algorithmic problems. 

Professor and Head of BARC, Mikkel Thorup, is delighted that the new VILLUM grant provides the opportunity to create the next scientific breakthroughs in algorithms. 

- I am delighted that the VILLUM foundation places their trust in us to conduct our unpredictable, exploratory research. We venture into critical but poorly understood areas, striving for unexpected discoveries and breakthroughs, says Professor Mikkel Thorup.  

He continues: 

- This curiosity-driven approach proves to be highly productive for researchers with the right talent. However, many other foundations seek more projectable research, making the VILLUM foundation's support truly unique and invaluable. 

Although the researchers at BARC can usually only guess what their research will be used for, several of their solutions have created great impact for industry. For example, Professor Mikkel Thorup's own work in inventing an algorithm that can significantly reduce the resource consumption of the world's computer servers has been adopted by large companies such as Vimeo and Google. 

An ambitious environment 

How many edges can you remove from a network before it breaks? What is the mathematical recipe for getting from A to B the fastest and most energy-efficiently? Can a computer calculate how we pack objects most optimally? How to connect a number of points in a graph without allowing the lines connecting them to cross? 

The BARC Centre's researchers do not keep away from engaging in veritable brain teasers that others have been trying to solve for years. 

- I am proud of the breakthroughs we have made and that we have succeeded in attracting talent from all over the world to Copenhagen. My ambition in founding BARC was to create a magnet for talent and development in algorithmics, and I think it is safe to say that we have succeeded, says Professor Mikkel Thorup. 

According to the ranking list CSRankings, at the time of writing, the University of Copenhagen is in first place among the best universities in Europe measured by the number of top articles in algorithmics. 

In addition, BARC has a strong tradition of attracting young talent, from undergraduate to PhD students, whose work have been awarded at some of the field's most recognized conferences. 

- I would very much like to thank the entire steering group for a fantastic collaboration regarding the grant application - especially Helen Porter, Rasmus Pagh and our Research Support from the University of Copenhagen, as well as Thore Husfeldt and Nutan Lamaye from the IT University. One of the strengths of BARC is that it also involves researchers at the IT University of Copenhagen and thus creates synergy between the two institutions, says Professor Mikkel Thorup. 





Mikkel Thorup
Professor, Head of BARC, Head of Section
Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen
+45 21 17 91 23

Caroline Wistoft
Communications consultant
Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen
+45 21 30 96 31


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