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

Research in natural computing is at the core of our activities, covering theoretical foundations, the development of new algorithms, and interdisciplinary applications of natural computing methods. Some of our current projects, in particular, focus on the following areas:

  • Robust optimization using evolutionary algorithms
  • Multiple criteria decision support
  • Mixed-integer evolutionary strategies (MIES)
  • Cellular automata for simulation applications
  • Particle swarm algorithms
  • Multiparameter physics applications (e.g., quantum control)
  • Medical image analysis applications
  • Drug design by interactive and automatic evolution
  • Protein folding and docking applications
  • Supply chain applications

Beyond this, we are also executing projects in direct cooperation with industry (see collaborations for more information).

The driving force behind our research is the mission to increase our understanding of natural systems as models of computation, with a focus on the development of new algorithms and applications to challenging problems.


Thomas Baeck

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.


Hestia Tamboer

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