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My experience at the 4th Heidelberg Laureate Forum July 11, 2017

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SUBMITTED BY:
HUSSAINI GARBA MOHAMMED
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Heidelberg, is popularly known as a City of Ideas. In this city, professionals from various fields are brought together annually to exchange ideas through the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). As usual, this year, scholars, including mathematicians and computer scientists from different countries, discussed important matters in the City of Ideas. The Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) unites highly talented young researchers -undergraduates, PhD students and other scholars) in Mathematics, Computer Science and closely related disciplines in their research for an informal and intellectual exchange in the City of Ideas. Annually, the HLF brings brilliant mathematicians and computer scientists all over the world together in the last week of September, together with recipients of the Abel Prize, the Fields Medal, the Nevanlinna Prize and the ACM Turing Award.The Abel, Fields, Turing and Nevanlinna Laureates are invited to the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, with 200 selected young researchers, who converged for a weeklong conference that was full of inspiration and opportunities. The HLF was founded in 2013 by Klaus Tschira, a German physicist who co-founded the Systems Applications and Products (SAP) – the largest independent software producer worldwide and the largest producer of standard business applications. He was also the brain behind the Klaus Tschira Stiftung Foundation, which was founded in 1995. He addressed the gathering of the HLF during its opening ceremony in 2013 and died in 2015. On Friday, lectures were transferred to SAP campus at St. Leon-Rot. The company’s principal business activities are prepackaged computer software for over 1,000 predefined business processes, from financial accounting, human resources and plant maintenance, to quality assurance, material management, sales and distribution, as well as business workflow. In their respective welcome address, the chairperson of the HLF, Beate Spiegel and the chairman, Scientific Committee of the Forum, Andreas Reuter, advised participants to heed Albert Einstein’s advice: never stop asking, so as to go home with new ideas and share with others. About the city The location of Heidelberg makes it one of the warmest places in Germany. An annual average weather condition in Heidelberg shows that July is the hottest month in the city, with an average temperature of 21°C (70°F), and the coldest is January, at 3°C (37°F). June, July, August and September have nice weather conditions, with a good temperature. On average, the warmest month is August while the coldest is January. The Heidelberg University When Count Palatinate and Prince Elector Ruprecht founded the Heidelberg University in 1386 with the permission of Pope Urban VI, it was the third university in the Roman Empire and the first in what is today known as Germany. There are 11 Nobel prize winners in the city. These laureates: Philip Lenard (Physics, 1905); Albrecht Kossel (Medicine,1910); Otto Fritz Meyerhof (Medicine, 1922); Richard Kuhn (Chemistry, 1938); Welter Bothe (Physics, 1954); Hans Daniel Jensen (Physics, 1963); Karl Ziegler (Chemistry, 1963); Georg Wittig (Chemistry, 1979); Bert Sakmann (Medicine,1991); HaraldzurHausen (Medicine, 2008) and Stefan Hell (Chemistry, 2014); were researchers at Heidelberg University. It was a great opportunity to be in the midst of 21 laureates of computer science and mathematics from different disciplines across the world for six days. Participants became fully acquainted with the controversy surrounding the history of the first computer by the German civil engineer, Konrad Zuse (1910-1995). In his presentation, a professor of Computer Science and Mathematics from Freie Universität, Berlin, Raul Rojas, who specialised in Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks, explained the exhibition of Zuse, which took place in a building next to the university. The inventor of the first digital and programmable computers said the idea of the exhibition was to tell the story of how the German inventor planned his project idea for about 10 years, built his computer in his parent’s living room, took over the living room from his parents in Berlin, and how he started his own company. According to him, Zuse did not start in a garage where most other computer scientists started. His machine is considered as the first digital and programmable computer, a feat he accomplished in 1938, long before anyone else. From 1935 to 1945 he built the Z1, Z2, Z3 and Z4 computers. The artistic engineer also designed advertisements for Ford motors during his university years. The event was also a good opportunity to learn greater details of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the man who saved the world 33 years ago, on the midnight of September 26, 1983 in Moscow, through a computer alarm. His name was Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the former USSR army. Petrov was responsible for reacting to a report that five American nuclear missiles were heading toward the Soviet Union. Rather than retaliate, Petrov went against protocol and convinced the armed forces that it was a false alarm. His decision saved the world from a nuclear war. A visit to Heidelberg would not be complete without a day at the Kulturbrauerei (Culture Restaurant). During a media get-together at the restaurant, almost everybody dressed in their traditional attires as they shared pleasantries and exchanged ideas. German dancers were at hand to entertain guests. It was absolutely interesting. We also discussed with the likes of Ivan Sutherland, an American computer scientist and internet pioneer, widely regarded as the “father of computer graphics. He was well known for his pioneering and visionary contributions to computer graphics. It was fascinating how Sutherland and his granddaughter encouraged young researchers. Like others, they tried to understand one’s dream and possibly offer help. Young researchers and leaders of tomorrow were given the opportunity to learn from acclaimed professionals. Raj Reddy, the first person from Asia to receive the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Turing Award in 1994, the highest award in Computer Science, for his work in Artificial Intelligence, spoke on the topic: “Too Much Information and Too Little Time.” His talk was on how to calculate your time to get better information, especially reading newspapers. His focus was on too much information and scarcity of attention. He gave an example of how the US president got a daily personalised newspaper and read all the key news at his own time every day because he did not have enough time to read everything or something else. Reddy sought to know why everybody couldn’t get and read personalised newspapers at their own little time, get the right information at the right time, solve problems, and reach out to the society. He told participants that the same information came out every day in some newspapers; hence, if everything worked perfectly we would get the right information to the right people at the right time, using the right language, details and understanding. After his lecture, Reddy further explained how he helped his country to come up with low phone call rates and reached out to poor people in the villages with the right information. He also spoke on his research on how to make cheaper smart phones and make them available to the poor. He also helped his country to establish the Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technology in India, with the mission of actualising the educational needs of low income earners and the gifted youth in rural areas. The highest Computer Science award winner concluded that future breakthroughs would emerge from those who understand human limitations and can cater for human needs. Five Nigerians among HLF 2016 young researchers winners Five Nigerians were among the 200 people who won the 4th HLF laureate prize for young researchers.

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