Academic Interests

I'd love to learn how we can be more rational. At the same time, I am aware that despite - or perhaps because of - its impressive flexibility, the human brain will never be a master at rationality. It is in fact rather ironic that a Google Images search for "rationality" mostly yields stylised images of the human brain. We typically rely on anecdotal evidence and other heuristics to support our claims rather than sound evidence. Especially when it comes to making inferences - be it logical or statistical - about large or complex systems, we do not stand a chance. Examples include proving that a critical computer system like a cryptography protocol does not contain bugs and learning to recognise diseases from radiology images.

Fortunately, we have good mathematical theories of both logic and statistics which are suited for computer implementation, allowing us, in principle, to automate such reasoning. A fascinating aspect of globalised society with millions or even billions of people making use of the same services is that automation of reasoning to improve these services not only becomes worthwhile but also feasible, both because of availability of budget and because we have enormous quantities of data from which we can draw statistical inferences. I am directing my efforts towards the further development of such computer frameworks to aid human reasoning where it matters most.

A more specific selection of topics that I'm very curious about:

Category theory, type theory, semantics of programming languages, logic and probability theory, Bayesian statistics, machine learning, probabilistic programming, (ir)rationality.

Personal Interests

I am a big believer in the value that mindfulness can have for both happiness and productivity. I'm a fan of total body workout type endurance sports like racing obstacle courses, rowing, swimming, skiing, wind surfing. I like reading literature (some favourites: Haruki Murakami, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Arnon Grunberg) and playing (tuba, guitar) and listening to classical music (Alexander Scriabin, Philip Glass, Dmitri Shostakovich, the late Ludwig van Beethoven, Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten).

rational brain