Best European PhD Thesis on Artificial Intelligence comes from Basel

The PhD thesis by Florian Pommerening from the DMI research group Artificial Intelligence has been distinguished with the EurAI Dissertation Award for 2017. This award annually recognizes the best PhD thesis in the area of Artificial Intelligence that has been produced in Europe in the preceding calendar year. After winners from EPF Lausanne in 2000 and 2007, this is the third time in its history that this award goes to Switzerland.

Florian Pommerening's thesis is concerned with the question how complex AI planning tasks can be solved efficiently and optimally without having to tailor the solution algorithm to any particular application domain and without having to perform any training or learning. It shows how methods from mathematical optimization can be used to fully automate the synthesis of problem-specific solution approaches (heuristics) for intelligent problem solving based on an abstract problem description.

In June 2018, Florian Pommerening was already recognized with the ICAPS Best Dissertation Award 2018, a worldwide award which is annually given to the strongest PhD thesis in the area of automated planning and scheduling. Guillem Francès Medina, also from the DMI research group Artificial Intelligence, received an honorable mention for the award for his PhD thesis "Effective Planning with Expressive Languages", produced at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

Members of the Artificial Intelligence research group have received the ICAPS Best Dissertation Award for the third year running. In 2017, Thomas Keller was recognized for his PhD thesis "Anytime Optimal MDP Planning with Trial-based Heuristic Tree Search", produced at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. In 2016, Gabriele Röger was recognized for her PhD thesis "Planning Techniques and the Action Language Golog", also produced at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg.