This year, CWI is celebrating! 75 years ago, the institute opened its doors, under the name Mathematisch Centrum. Its aim was to promote the use of pure and applied mathematics in the reconstruction of the Netherlands after the Second World War, to improve prosperity in the Netherlands, and to enhance the Dutch contribution to international scientific culture. Computer Science was later added to the mix, and the centre was duly renamed Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, or in short CWI.
CWI: 75 years of pioneering research
This year, CWI is celebrating! 75 years ago, the institute opened its doors. Its aim was to promote the use of pure and applied mathematics in the reconstruction after the Second World War,
Bright minds in mathematics and computer science work at CWI, conducting fundamental, ground-breaking research that lays the foundation for future breakthroughs. The CWI strives to share the knowledge it acquires with society, and its research therefore always has a social relevance. This has proven itself repeatedly over the years. Let's take a look at some of the research highlights. For more info about CWI's work, read our New Scientist anniversary magazine, download a copy of the magazine in English or the Dutch version of the magazine, or order a paper copy.
Spin-offs and partnerships
To date, CWI has launched 28 spin-offs. A modern example is Stokhos who make software that predicts how ambulances can be efficiently distributed within a region and therefore be on the scene faster. It's literally a life-saving development. Another example is MonetDB, founded by database scientists at CWI.
Shortest path algorithm and navigation
For those who do not like to navigate, but prefer travelling by train, CWI has also delivered. In 2007, CWI researcher Lex Schrijver, with others, created an algorithm that was used to redesign and optimize the timetable of the Dutch Railways. For his CWI research, Lex received the Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch science award.
CWI was involved right from the beginning with the internet's most important application, the World Wide Web, and had one of the world's first websites. CWI researchers have contributed to the design of many web standards including CSS, HTML, XHTML, RDF and many others.
Security and privacy
In 1999 CWI coordinated the breaking of the encryption standard RSA-512, by factoring large numbers into their prime factors. In 2008 a group of CWI researchers and international colleagues exposed weaknesses in the MD5 security standard, which is widely used on the internet, for instance by web browsers. In 2017, the same happened again with the security standard SHA-1 which is used to protect credit card transactions and digital signatures.
Imaging, energy, and AI
In 2017 CWI opened the unparalleled X-ray scanner that provides real-time 3D images. With the FleX-ray Lab, mathematics and 3D scanning are brought together, so the new calculation methods can immediately prove themselves in practice. Working closely together with radiotherapists, CWI developed artificial intelligence to realize improvements in radiation treatment for cancer. Patients now are treated following optimal radiation plans created by AI.
CWI also works on energy research. With the main questions being: How do you achieve the most with artificial intelligence and calculation models from available energy sources? And how do you distribute energy fairly and efficiently?
Throughout its history, CWI has been an innovator, connector, and driver in mathematics and computer science. Joining forces with the best and most motivated scientists and organisations in the field, and with unprecedented future possibilities ahead, they will continue to expand their work. In our podcast series together with AG Connect, CWI scientists look into the future and share their thoughts on the influence of computer science and mathematics on tomorrow's world. Listen to the podcasts with Sander Bohte (Deep Learning) and Tim Baarslag (Automatic Negotiation).