Matthijs van Leeuwen
Associate professor/Director of Education
Matthijs likes data, patterns, algorithms, and information theory. He strives for data mining and machine learning methods and results that are principled, interpretable, and incorporate existing knowledge. He is director of education of the Computer Science, Media Technology and ICT in Business and the Public Sector master's programmes. Besides this, he is member of the LIACS management team and of the interdisciplinary research programme Society, Artificial Intelligence and Life Sciences (SAILS).
Matthijs is assistant professor, group leader of the Explanatory Data Analysis group, Programme Manager of the Master Computer Science and member of the interdisciplinary research programme Society, Artificial Intelligence and Life Sciences (SAILS). His primary research interest is exploratory data mining: how can we enable domain experts to explore and analyse their data, to discover structure and—ultimately—novel knowledge?
For this it is important that methods and results are explainable to domain experts, who may not be data scientists. His approach is to define and identify patterns that matter, i.e., succinct descriptions that characterise relevant structure present in the data. Which patterns matter strongly depends on the data and task at hand, hence defining the problem is one of the key challenges. Information theoretic concepts such as the minimum description length (MDL) principle have proven very useful to this end. Matthijs is also interested in interactive data mining, i.e., involving humans in the loop. Finally, he is interested in fundamental data mining research for real-world applications, both in science (e.g., life sciences, social sciences) and industry (e.g., manufacturing and engineering, aviation), as this is the best way to show that the theory works in practice.
Matthijs was previously a (tenure track) assistant professor (2017-2020) and senior researcher (2015-2017) at Leiden University, and a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven (2011-2015) and Universiteit Utrecht (2009-2011). He defended his Ph.D. thesis, titled Patterns that Matter, in February 2010, at Universiteit Utrecht. He won several best paper awards at international conferences and was awarded NWO Rubicon, FWO Postdoc, and NWO TOP2 grants. He is General Chair of the IDA Council and editorial board member of Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery. Further, he co-organised a number of international conferences and workshops, and co-lectured tutorials on 'Information Theoretic Methods in Data Mining'.
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