CWI researchers in research consortium Gravity programme

Six research consortia in which prominent scientists from various Dutch universities work together are receiving a combined sum of 153 million euros for long-term and large-scale research.

Publication date
18 Dec 2013

Six research consortia in which prominent scientists from various Dutch universities work together are receiving a combined sum of 153 million euros for long-term and large-scale research. These awards fall under the Gravitation programme of the Minister for Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker. With these grants, she is giving Dutch world-class scientists the opportunity to carry out innovative research that can bring about international breakthroughs. An international committee appointed by NWO was responsible for assessing the proposals.

Researchers Harry Buhrman and Lex Schrijver of the Centrum Wiskunde & Informtica (CWI) in Amsterdam are part of Networks, one of the six teams that have been awarded with the grant. Networks is a consortium of eleven mathematics and computer science researchers from four institutions with the aim to work on the urgent challenges facing large-scale networks. These challenges not only concern digital networks. Also traffic and transport networks and energy networks are often not (good enough) equipped for unexpected situations. This research project focuses on modeling, understanding, controlling and the optimization of complex and highly volatile networks.

Harry Buhrman, leader of the research group Algorithms and Complexity of CWI, will focus on quantum networks. Buhrman will research how 'qubits' and 'entanglement' change the behavior in such networks, how quantum algorithms can perform more efficient in communication and computation and how quantum cryptography can be used for the protection of quantum networks. In his research Buhrman connects to deep mathematical issues, such as the P versus NP problem. CWI Fellow Lex Schrijver will focus in his research on the dynamics of large networks and on transport and logistic networks, in particularly how disruption in networks can be accommodated in order to prevent the network from a shut down.

Minister Bussemaker: ‘These are scientists that the Netherlands can be proud of. They belong to the world top. These research teams will put Dutch science on the international map. The six teams show that you can realise groundbreaking research that can improve the lives of many people through collaboration at the highest scientific level. With the Gravitation programme I am giving a strong boost to this collaboration.’

Within the research teams the best researchers from the Netherlands are intensively collaborating in one or more disciplines for a long period of time to carry out excellent scientific research. Gravitation provides financial support for a maximum period of ten years. Many of the research projects are interdisciplinary in nature so that innovative research can be carried out from several perspectives with a consolidation of strengths.

Selection process
NWO received 41 applications for funding within Gravitation. The assessment, competitive comparison between proposals and selection of the proposals was in the hands of expert referees as well as an international independent committee of scientists with a broad knowledge of scientific developments and experience with large scientific research groups. The Governing Board of NWO appointed the committee and advised the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science about the research teams to be awarded funding.

The Gravitation programme is open to proposals from all scientific disciplines. The six proposals selected are from the natural and life sciences. This year no proposals from the arts, social sciences and humanities were selected for funding. The committee was unanimous in its opinion that the proposals now awarded funding are the best. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and NWO will review to what extent the setup and procedure of the Gravitation Programme needs to be adjusted to safeguard the position of the arts, social sciences and humanities in the science-wide comparison of quality.

In 2012, six research groups started with a combined sum of 167 million euros in funding from Gravitation. The next funding round will be held in 2016.



Principal applicant: Prof. M.R.H. Mandjes (University of Amsterdam)
Co-applicants: Prof. M.T. de Berg (Eindhoven University of Technology), Prof. S.C. Borst (Eindhoven University of Technology), Prof. O.J. Boxma (Eindhoven University of Technology), Prof. H.M. Buhrman (CWI), Prof. R.W. van der Hofstad (Eindhoven University of Technology), Prof. W.Th.F. den Hollander (Leiden University), Prof. A.M.J. Koonen (Eindhoven University of Technology), Prof. J.S.H. van Leeuwaarden (Eindhoven University of Technology), Prof. A. Schrijver (CWI), Prof. G.J. Woeginger (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Lead institution: University of Amsterdam
Award: 22.7 million euros

More information on the NWO Gravity programme: