Great success for the LUH in the current round of the renowned ERC Starting Grants: Three young scientists have been awarded one of the grants, each of which is endowed with up to 1.5 million euros. With the Starting Grants, the European Science Council supports excellent and visionary research by outstanding young scientists. The aim is to support scientific independence by setting up their own research group over a period of up to five years. Applications are open to researchers whose doctorate was completed two to seven years ago. The fact that three of the renowned ERC Starting Grants will be awarded to Leibniz Universität in this round is a huge success.

The LUH award winners are Prof. Michael Kues (Hannover Centre for Optical Technologies, HOT), Prof. Matthias Müller (Institute of Control Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Prof. Stefan Schreieder (Institute of Algebraic Geometry, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics).

Prof. Michael Kues, scientist of the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD of Leibniz Universität Hannover, receives the Starting Grant for his research project on the development of photonic quantum coprocessors. At the Hanover Centre for Optical Technologies at LUH, where interdisciplinary research is carried out, he can now further expand his research into photonic quantum technologies. The 36-year-old, who accepted a call to LUH in spring 2019, wants to expand the possibilities of machine learning with his QFreC project for research into "intelligent photonic frequency-based quantum circuits". Machine learning methods are used to solve complex tasks such as pattern recognition, for example to optimise investment strategies in financial trading, to steer self-propelled cars or to improve medical diagnoses. However, the computing power required for this is pushing the currently available computing resources to their limits. This is where Kues' research project comes in. The physicist wants to use quantum-photonic circuits for machine learning and investigate how this combination can increase computing power. In addition, the use of photonic technology has the potential to minimise energy consumption.

Prof. Matthias Müller receives the ERC Starting Grant for a research project in the field of control engineering. The project Cont4Med of the 35-year-old, who has been director of the Institute of Control Engineering at LUH since February 2019, deals with control and estimation methods for nonlinear dynamic systems for which little or incomplete information is available. This is the case, for example, when only sporadic measurements of quantities can be made or the system or its dynamic behaviour is (partially) unknown. The main motivation for considering these phenomena is biomedical applications such as the pituitary thyroid control circuit, where hormone concentrations are often only measured at intervals of several days or weeks. Cont4Med wants to investigate how many and which measurements of a nonlinear system are necessary to reconstruct internal system states. In addition, estimation and control procedures for these systems are to be developed using methods of machine learning, among other things. The developed methods will be tested in simulations in different biomedical applications with the aim of an optimal and personalised therapy development.

Approaching a famous open problem in algebraic geometry: In the funded research project, the only 32-year-old ERC award winner Prof. Stefan Schreieder will investigate rationality questions of algebraic varieties together with his research group. Essentially, the question is for which algebraic equations there is a solution formula - i.e. an algebraic formula that unambiguously describes (almost all) solutions of the equation. Perhaps the oldest example of a non-trivial equation that allows such a solution formula is given by the circular equation. In fact, the ancient Greeks probably already knew that (almost) all solutions can be uniquely described by an explicit algebraic solution formula. For many other important equations the existence of a similar solution formula is a famous open problem in algebraic geometry. With the help of modern methods from algebra, number theory and geometry, considerable progress has been made in this field in recent years. Stefan Schreieder, who became a professor in Munich at the age of 29 and moved to LUH in spring 2020, has already made a significant contribution to these advances in recent years.

In addition to the three newly-funded researchers, five other scientists are currently conducting research at Leibniz Universität Hannover with an ERC Starting Grant and one scientist with an ERC Consolidator Grant (funding line for researchers whose doctorate dates back between seven and twelve years). The ERC Grants are regarded as a knighthood of the European scientific community due to the tough selection process. Important selection criteria are how visionary the research questions are and what excellent achievements the applicants have made so far.

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