Markus Hecher finished his Phd in July 2021, where he graduated according to an individual binational agreement between TU Wien (Austria) and the University of Potsdam (Germany). Besides the AI dissertation award 2021 by EurAI, his Phd thesis received the national award of excellence 2021 by BMBWF Austria. For a single-authored paper covering a key result of his thesis, he has been awarded with the prestigious Marco Cadoli Best Student Paper Award at KR 2020. A follow-up work resulted in a combined Best Student Award and Best Paper Award at ICLP 2021.
Markus's research concentrates on parameterized complexity & algorithmics and its applications to logic and AI, with particular focus on quantitative reasoning, where he is interested in ways to improve solving computationally hard problems. In order to speed-up computer programs tackling these problems, one can analyze the structural dependency of instances, which is often studied by means of the so-called treewidth. In his thesis, Markus developed algorithms for treewidth for efficiently evaluating logical formulas, thereby trading a decrease of structural dependency for an increase of solving effort (and vice versa). He developed a novel toolkit for treewidth-based lower bounds for many problems in AI, where he solved a question that has been open for more than a decade. With the help of this toolkit, he proved that a significant improvement of a whole list of treewidth-based algorithms in AI is very unlikely.
Before finishing his PhD, Markus was invited to participate in a specialized program on logic at UC Berkeley, California (USA) in Spring 2021, where he actively contributed to an experimental outdoor collaboration program. Recently he has been awarded a 3-year FWF Erwin Schroedinger fellowship for his proposal "QuantASP - Quantitative Reasoning and Counting for ASP", where starting from 2022 he will carry out 2 years of research at MIT, Massachusetts (USA) in the group of Erik Demaine. Further details and his academic achievements so far can be found at https://dbai.tuwien.ac.at/staff/hecher.