Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science

Digital technology is changing academia and society at lightning speed. LIACS is in the midst of this with groundbreaking research into data processing and artificial intelligence (AI). It conducts a unique combination of fundamental and applied research into major issues facing academia and society.

Fundamental and applied research

The fundamental research at LIACS looks into AI. The researchers investigate how computers can solve complex tasks through learning from previous results, interaction with their environment or evolutionary selection algorithms. LIACS also focuses on the analysis and development of complex digital systems, such as parallel computers, quantum computers and robots as well as on the security and reliability of these systems. It also analyses large quantities of data, with the aim of identifying patterns that reveal information that may facilitate decision-making.

Issues facing society

Issues facing society inspire much of the research at LIACS. This results in essential new partnerships: within the Faculty, with researchers from other faculties, with other universities and, above all, with organisations from the public and private sector. LIACS is involved in datamining projects to detect fraud at government organisations or insurance companies, for instance. It also works closely with companies such as Tata Steel, Honda and BMW to optimise production processes and make them more sustainable.

The analysis of big data from social networks leads to new insights into topics such as financial flows and fake news. In collaboration with social scientists, LIACS helps improve computer science teaching in the Netherlands and outside. Unique in the Netherlands is how the team also analyses sporting data to help top athletes improve their performance.


‘AI for Life’ is the mission of LIACS. This means research for life, in the widest sense of the word: from fundamental research into natural algorithms and programming languages to the life sciences and human-centred AI. Machine learning is used to discover new medicines. Other applications are folding and binding molecules with the aid of visualisation and image-processing algorithms. LIACS also researches assisted living with robots and human-computer interaction for people with physical disabilities. All this is with partners in the Faculty, University and business. The Institute has a real talent for bringing people together.

Collaboration in its blood

One example of such collaboration is the Data Science Research Programme. This is a University-wide programme that aims to increase the quality of its data-science research and to promote the use of data-science methods at all seven faculties at Leiden University. Around 20 PhD candidates are working on the programme.

Future perspectives

LIACS is a renowned institute within the fields of computer science, data science and AI, both nationally and internationally. The teaching is individual in focus and research driven, which is what attracts many students to Leiden. With the increase in fundamental and applied research into data science and AI, the institute will undoubtedly continue to grow in the coming years.

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