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Date: Mar 19, 2021

First Argelander professorship filled at the University of Bonn Research beyond borders of disciplines: Mathematician Florian Brandl focuses on economic theory

How can different actors make joint decisions when they have different information or face uncertainties? This and other questions are tackled by mathematician and theoretical economist Dr. Florian Brandl, who will take up an Argelander Professorship at the University of Bonn on April 1 and at the same time start as a Bonn Junior Fellow at the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics. He is the first researcher to hold such a professorship, as these are new positions created by the University of Bonn for outstanding up-and-coming professors who distinguish themselves by combining different disciplines. In Florian Brandl's research, these are mathematics, economics and computer science.

Major societal challenges and the complex questions they raise cannot be answered by any one scientific discipline alone. This is a thought that the University of Bonn took as an opportunity one and a half years ago to establish six university-wide so-called Transdisciplinary Research Areas with different thematic focuses in the course of the Excellence Strategy funding program. The concept includes new professorships which are anchored there and tailored to different career stages.

“The Argelander Professorships are an important part of our university's transdisciplinary approach. With Florian Brandl, we have gained an outstanding scientist who conducts research at the interface of different subjects at the highest level,” stresses Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer, Vice Rector for Research and Innovation at the University of Bonn.

The first Argelander Chair, which has now been filled, is special because it is a permanent professorship, made possible by a cooperation of the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Mathematics, Modelling and Simulation of Complex Systems" with the Faculty of Law and Economics and the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics (HCM), one of six Clusters of Excellence at the University of Bonn. Florian Brandl is appointed Bonn Junior Fellow there, which allows him to develop his own research program.

"Florian Brandl is an extremely talented and productive young scientist whose research combines methods and approaches from economic theory, mathematics, and computer science. This makes him an ideal appointment to the Argelander Chair and an asset to the Institute for Microeconomics," emphasizes Prof. Dr. Jürgen von Hagen, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Economics at the University of Bonn.

How can mathematics illuminate decision-making?

In his research, Florian Brandl explores topics in microeconomic theory, especially social choice theory, decision theory, and game theory. His aim is to further develop the theoretical foundations of individual and collective decision-making. He investigates, for example, the impact of uncertainty and asymmetric (unequal) information on collective decision-making or how to distribute resources fairly across multiple individuals. Moreover, he studies how strategic behavior affects these problems. One approach of answering his research questions can be designing algorithmic solutions so that his work also intersects with theoretical computer science.

"The expertise in microeconomic theory and the interdisciplinary research areas with mathematics and computer science make the University of Bonn an excellent place for me to work. The Argelander Professorship and the Bonn Junior Fellowship allow me to contribute to these areas and help to interconnect them," says Florian Brandl.

He received his doctorate from the Technical University of Munich in 2018 and most recently worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University and Princeton University on a research fellowship from the German Research Foundation.

Versatile programs for the promotion of young talent

Argelander Professorships (named after the Bonn astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander, † 1875) are established at the intersection of two disciplines and are intended to strengthen both the Transdisciplinary Research Areas and the faculties. They enable young researchers to develop independent research across disciplines.

The "Bonn Junior Fellow Program" of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics targets candidates worldwide who are developing their own research agenda and have demonstrated their scientific independence through publications. 28 Bonn Junior Fellows have already been appointed since 2006. These are usually five-year W2 positions intended to serve as stepping stones and are sometimes linked to the possibility of a tenure-track professorship, meaning the chance to prove oneself and obtain a permanent position. However, the cooperation with the Transdisciplinary Research Area and the Argelander Program made a direct, permanent W2 professorship possible for Florian Brandl.

The now jointly filled professorship is the result of strong collaboration between the Transdisciplinary Research Area and the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics. The close cooperation is also reflected in other areas, including the joint event series "HCM meets TRA1", which brings together researchers from both associations.

The Transdisciplinary Research Area "Mathematics, Modelling and Simulation of Complex Systems"

The creation of models is at the heart of many quantitative sciences. Nowadays, computers are able to process increasingly large data sets in decreasingly short time to create scientific forecasting models. The understanding of how complex systems, with many components that interact with each other, actually work, is one of the biggest challenges of our time, arising in numerous areas of science and technology. In the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) "Mathematics, Modelling and Simulation of Complex Systems" at the University of Bonn, researchers from a broad range of disciplines create models that not only describe complex systems, but are able to analyze their behavior. They do this using a combination of classical observational methods, data simulation and creative spirit.

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Florian Brandl
Institute for Microeconomics, University of Bonn
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