February 24, 2020

Sebastian Lapuschkin receives the first Hugo-Geiger-Prize for outstanding doctoral achievement

February 24, 2020

Along with two other young researchers from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Dr. Sebastian Lapuschkin from the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI, was also honored with the prestigious Hugo Geiger Prize for his doctoral thesis. The prizes, which are endowed with 5000, 3000 and 2000 euros, are awarded by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft together with the Free State of Bavaria. They were presented at the “Fraunhofer Netzwert" symposium in Munich.

Machine Learning successfully supports a variety of decision making applications. However, the predictions are made in a seemingly non-transparent way. This "black-box character" impairs the acceptance in numerous fields of application, in which the understanding of individual model predictions and thus the confidence in the prediction model is inevitable. Dr. Sebastian Lapuschkin, post-doctoral fellow at the Fraunhofer HHI, addressed this fundamental problem in his dissertation, which he completed with summa cum laude.

The computer scientist developed "Layer-wise Relevance Propagation (LRP)", a method for the explanation of individual model decisions and a methodical framework for the systematic analysis of general behavior and prediction strategies derived from Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. With this method, Lapuschkin managed to essentially eliminate the technical, ethical and legal limitations of modern AI approaches. He thus paved the way for the use and applicability of modern and powerful AI in new fields of application with a previously unattainable degree of transparency.

The other two prize-winning doctoral theses were written by Dr. Lea Bayer (Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI) and Dr. Hendrik Sändker (Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT).

The Hugo Geiger Prize

On March 26, 1949, the founding assembly of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft took place under the patronage of State Secretary Hugo Geiger in the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy established the "Hugo Geiger Prize for Young Scientists". The prize is awarded annually and is intended to honor outstanding, application-oriented doctoral theses that have been produced in close cooperation with an institute of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The prize has been awarded for 20 years now. For this reason, this year's guests of honor also include Hugo Geiger Prize winners from the last two decades.

Fraunhofer Symposium Netzwert

The Fraunhofer Symposium Netzwert is the largest Fraunhofer-internal networking event for researchers of all disciplines and hierarchical levels. The symposium is the ideal setting for the presentation of the Hugo Geiger Prizes, as numerous Fraunhofer scientists meet at this largest internal networking event. This year, the two-day event is being held under the motto "High-Tech Strategy - and beyond". Fraunhofer reflects on the research fields of the Ger-man government's High-Tech Strategy 2025 and looks beyond with its own topics and trans-fer projects. Approaches to solutions will be presented and discussed in seven specialist sessions oriented on the High-Tech Strategy: Intelligent medicine, sustainable management, technology for humans, Artificial Intelligence, energy and storage, mobility and quantum technology.