Universiteit Leiden

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Aske Plaat

Professor of Data science

Prof.dr. A. Plaat
+31 71 527 7065

Professor Aske Plaat is Professor of Data Science at Leiden University and scientific director of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). He is co-founder of the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS) and initiated the interdisciplinary research programme Society, Artificial Intelligence and Life Sciences (SAILS). Plaat's research interests include reinforcement learning, scalable combinatorial reasoning algorithms, games and self-learning systems.

More information about Aske Plaat


Prof.dr. Aske Plaat obtained his PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. His work focused on search algorithms. After his graduation, he did post-doctoral research on the Cild system in combining supercomputing technologies group at the MIT Lab for Computer Science. In 1997 he was awarded the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship, and an NWO/SION grant to work with Henri Bal at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on distributed algorithms for scalable computing.

With PI Jos Vermaseren (Nikhef) he is co-author of the HEPGAME project that was awarded a five-year Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (proposal) on 12/12/2012. HEPGAME uses machine learning algorithms to solve very complex high energy physics problems. In 2017 the Amsterdam-Leiden-Delft Quantum Software consortium received a 10 year NWO Gravitation grant, of which he leads the Quantum Machine Learning part.

Plaat has (co-)chaired and (co-)edited conferences on combinatorial algorithms, information management, and governance. He is a member of the board of the national SIKS research school for Artificial Intelligence and IPN Informatics Platform Netherlands. He was a member of the PRACE Access Committee.

In Leiden, he is a co-founder of the Computing Facility of Excellent Research (CFER), the Leiden Center of Data Science (LCDS), the Center for Computational Life Science (CCLS), and the university-wide initiative SAILS.

Research and education

Prof.dr. Plaat is head of the  Reinforcement Learning Group. This group conducts research on intelligent combinatorial search algorithms and reinforcement learning. 

 From 2020 Plaat teaches the course Reinforcement Learning in the Master Computer Science. He also teaches the seminar on Advanced Deep Reinforcement Learning since the beginning of 2020.

Active projects

  • Quantum Software Consortium 
    People: Vedran Dunjko, Carlo Beenakker, Dirk Bouwmeester, Harry Buhrman, Ronald Cramer, Ronald Hanson, Ronald de Wolf, Stephanie Wehner, Marcello Bonsangue, Aske Plaat
    The ministry for Education, Culture, and Science has awarded a Gravitation grant for large-scale research on quantum software.
    This grant of 18.8 million euro unites researchers from QuSoft, CWI, Leiden University, QuTech, TU Delft, UvA and the VU in pursuing state of the art research programs in this new field. LIACS performs research into Quantum Machine Learning.
    Funding: NWO 2017-2027
  • Quantum Annealing Optimization Algorithms
    People: Sheir Yarkoni, Florian Neukart, Thomas Bäck, Aske Plaat
    Industry-relevant optimization problems may have many different forms, for example: continuous, stochastic, high-dimensional, and more. However, commercial quantum annealers can currently only solve QUBO problems, so problems need to be posed to the annealer in this form. Since finding an optimal transformation to QUBO is an NP-hard problem in itself, discovering efficient ways of generating QUBO forms for generic optimization problems is the first step in this research. We will also study Evolutionary Algorithms and Quantum Annealing.
    Funding: LIACS & 
    DWAVE 2017-

  • Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives
    People: Michiel Thijssen, Ernest Suyver, Maarten Heerlien, Lambert Schomaker, Lissa Roberts, Jaap van den Herik, Andreas Weber, Fons Verbeek, Michael Lew, Katy Wolstencroft, Lise Stork, Aske Plaat
    Large and important parts of our cultural heritage are stored in archives that are difficult to access.  The project aims to develop a technologically advanced and user-centered digital environment that provides access to archives containing handwritten notes and illustrations.

    Funding: NWO Creative Industries and Brill Publishers, 2016-2020
  • Grip on Software
    People: Leon Helwerda, Aske Plaat, Fons Verbeek, Jeroen van der Leije, Frank Niessink
    How can we further streamline the development of software for the government? Leiden University and ICTU are to investigate this in a joint research project that was launched on 6 July 2016. The Dutch government uses a lot of software
    – DigiD, for instance, or software to open and close bridges automatically. Much of that software is developed by ICTU, a Dutch government organization that helps other government institutions in the realization of digital services.
    Funding: ICTU, 2016-2020

Professor of Data science

  • Science
  • Leiden Inst of Advanced Computer Science

Work address

Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
Room number BE4.21



  • No relevant ancillary activities
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