cfaed Seminar Series

cfAED Seminar Series

Prof. em. Dr. sc. techn. Heinrich Meyr , Prof. em. of RWTH Aaachen University; cfaed Grand Professor

Big data: Do we still need mathematical theory?

11.11.2014 (Tuesday) , 13:00 - 14:00
Room BAR II / 63a, Barkhausen Building , Georg-Schumann-Str. 11 , 01187 Dresden

Within cfaed's career development event "Grand Professor Week" we welcome Prof. em. Dr. sc. techn. Heinrich Meyr for a guest talk. Prof. Meyr will give a lecture on the topic “Big data: Do we still need mathematical theory?”.

The talk is intended for students and Ph.D. students which hopefully will gain some insight which paradigm makes sense for the problem they are working on. The talk is also open to the general public.


The exact sciences celebrated their greatest triumph by expressing physical laws by equations. Examples are Newton´s law of motion, the Boltzmann equation or the Maxwell equations. We call this paradigm the “equation paradigm”. Already in the 70´ies the physicist Wolfram argued that any phenomena in a complex system can be modeled based on cellular automata (“the algorithm paradigm”), provided sufficiently large memory and computational power.  Some extreme proponents of the algorithm paradigm even argue that collecting and analyzing data replaces mathematical theory. Moore´s law provides us with exponentially increasing computational power and memory. Is the end of mathematical theory really coming soon?
In this talk we look at the two competing paradigms. We do so by analyzing typical real world scientific areas. Not surprisingly, the conclusion is that they will coexist because they are complementary. Which paradigm makes sense is problem specific.


Dr. Heinrich Meyr received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from ETH Zurich, Switzerland in 1967 and 1973, respectively. He spent over 12 years in various research and management positions in industry before accepting a professorship in electrical engineering at RWTH Aachen University in 1977. At RWTH Aachen he has founded the Institute for Integrated Signal Processing System (ISS) involved in the analysis and design of complex signal processing systems for communication applications. He implemented an innovative cooperation model between university and industry without compromising academic excellence with a highly successful fund­raising program.

He has retired as Professor Emeritus in 2007 but remains active as a researcher. In 2008 he was a visiting Professor at the Institute of Communication Technology of the ETH Zürich directed by Professor Helmut Bölcskei. Presently he is a visiting Professor at the LSI lab of the EPFL directed by Professor Giovanni de Micheli.

During the last thirty years, Dr. Meyr has worked extensively in the areas of communication theory, digital signal processing and CAD tools for system-level design. He pioneered cross-disciplinary research which emphasizes the interaction of the pre­viously unrelated areas of algorithm design ("theory"), VLSI-architecture ("imple­mentation"), and design methodology ("tools") in the late 80´s. He has made significant contributions or defined and guided research in all three areas mentioned above. He and his students contributed innovative designs of Viterbi- and MAP decoders; they implemented one of the first DVB-S (1997) and DVB-T (2000) receiver chips. Recently, they designed the first sphere decoder (2010) with soft-input-soft-output capability as a key building block of an iterative receiver for MIMO transmission. In the tools area a large research effort led to the tool suites COSSAP and LISATek. These tool suites are among the few ones which have made the transition from academic research to industrialization. In communication theory significant contribution were made in the nonlinear theory of PPL, synchronization and channel estimation. The book, “Digital Communication Receivers”, J.Wiley, 1998 is the standard work in this area. It is used worldwide in academia and has over 1200 citation in “Harzing´s Publish or Perrish” It is equally widespread found in industrial labs worldwide.

In 1998 and 2000 he was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley´s wireless research center.

Dr. Meyr has received three IEEE best paper awards. He is a Life-Fellow IEEE. He is the recipient of the prestigious “Vodafone Innovation Prize” for the year 2000.

Dr. Meyr has a dual career as entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of CADIS (acquired 1993 by Synopsys, Mountain View, California) a company which commercialized the tool suite COSSAP. After the acquisition of CADIS a separate branch of CADIS has lead to the formation of an independent company, ATECOM which was acquired by Globespan Virata in 2001.He is also a co-founder of AXYS which has been acquired by ARM the year 2000.

In 2002 he co-founded LISATek Inc., a company with breakthrough technology to design application specific processors. In February 2004 LISATek has merged with CoWare Inc, San Jose. At CoWare Dr. Meyr accepted the position of Chief Scientist Officer. In 2010 CoWare has been acquired by Synopsys, the most successful EDA company worldwide. The technology based on research at ISS and commercialized by CoWare now is the core of the system level design tools of Synopsys.

Since 2012, Dr. Meyr is a Grand Professor of the Cluster of Excellence “Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden” (cfaed). In this role, he acts as personal mentors, engages in teaching postgraduate courses, and acts as collaboration partner in research projects. Additionally, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Cluster is headed by Dr. Meyr.

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