Welcome to the home page of the Natural Computing Group at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). The focus of our activities is on foundation and applications of computational paradigms gleaned from nature. Some examples include evolutionary algorithms, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic, ant colony optimization, swarm intelligence, simulated annealing, cellular automata, and molecular computing. We investigate fundamental aspects of those algorithms as well as their applications to practical problems, including e.g. medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical, physics, and engineering applications, as well as business applications ranging from portfolio optimization to forecasting. This website contains a wealth of information. The following pages may serve as a quick overview:

Thank you very much for your interest in our group. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have questions!

Prof. Dr. Thomas Bäck, Head Natural Computing Group


The natural computing group collaborates with a wide range of industrial and academic partners. If you are interested in collaborating or in learning more about what we can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

“The world of Tata Steel is one without boundaries – growing, changing and challenging every day. A world that embraces different skills, continuous innovation, financial investment, responsible use of natural resources. And above all, there is the enduring commitment of giving back to society that helps make the vision of sustainable growth a reality.

“World-leading scientific expertise combined with excellent skills in software and product development, plus a true understanding of the needs of commercial and industrial customers: Collaborating with Prof. Bäck and his team is truly a pleasure, and I warmly recommend this team to anyone interested in solving tough problems in predictive analytics and optimization.”
Mike Detwiler, CEO.

“As the leading expert in the application of evolutionary strategies and meta-models to hard industrial optimization problems, Prof. Bäck has always delivered highest quality results for BMW. We truly appreciate our collaboration and warmly recommend a collaboration with Prof. Bäck to any industrial partner who is in the need of solving tough optimization, modeling, and prediction problems.” Markus Ganser, Manager Standardisation, Construction, Innovation, BMW Group Mike Detwiler, CEO.


Thomas Bäck

Thomas Bäck is head of the Natural Computing Research Group at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). He received his PhD in Computer Science from Dortmund University, Germany, in 1994. He has been Associate Professor of Computer Science at Leiden University since 1996 and full Professor for Natural Computing since 2002.

Thomas Bäck has more than 150 publications on natural computing technologies, is the author of a book on evolutionary algorithms, entitled Evolutionary Algorithms in Theory and Practice, and co-editor of the Handbook of Evolutionary Computation. He is editorial board member and associate editor of a number of journals on evolutionary and natural computation (Journal of Natural Computing, Theoretical Computer Science C, Evolutionary Computation), co-editor of the Natural Computation Book Series, and has served as program chair for all major conferences in evolutionary computation. He received the best dissertation award from the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) in 1995 and is an elected fellow of the International Society for Genetic and Evolutionary Computation for his contributions to the field.

His main research interests are theory and applications of evolutionary algorithms (adaptive optimization methods gleaned from the model of organic evolution), cellular automata, data-driven modelling and applications of those methods in medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and engineering.