€2 million Consolidator Grant given to Computational Sustainability Researcher

As software plays an ever-greater role across research disciplines, a European Research Council (ERC)-funded effort at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) could now be a bit part of enabling transformative efficiency improvements. Professor Sebastian Erdweg of the JGU has received a €2 million Consolidator Grant to develop methods that automatically convert software into incremental programs optimised for only recalculating what is necessary upon input changes rather than full recomputation.

The project, called AutoInc, aims to provide the foundations to vastly improve computational sustainability amid the software-fueled explosion of processing needs and energy consumption. This could reshape software-based research practices across domains ranging from bioinformatics to materials science simulations and artificial intelligence.

While the promise of incremental computing has long been recognised, expertise demands, applicability limitations, and modest optimisations of current techniques have restricted widespread adoption so far. Erdweg intends to fundamentally rewrite this story.

“Incremental computing has the potential for enormous improvements in energy efficiency, provided we can solve its fundamental limitations,”

Professor Sebastian Erdweg
Professor Sebastian Erdweg

By creating automated incrementalisation methods that can transform non-incremental code without programmer effort, Erdweg’s team strives to turn incremental techniques into universally deployable tools any researcher can benefit from. Early AutoInc experiments already show over 10,000 times faster computations.

In addition to enabling new frontiers in sustainable software capabilities across research, success holds the potential to reveal deeper insights into the essential characteristics and limits of automated incremental computing itself.

AutoInc’s receipt of highly competitive ERC Consolidator Grant funding reflects recognition of both the excellence of Erdweg’s prior research as well as the proposal’s ambitious yet feasible vision to change thinking around efficiency in software-reliant research.

Recipients enjoy 5 years of financing for breakthrough projects in order to create substantial impacts. Erdweg’s programming languages background and leadership of JGU’s Programming Languages group formed a strong foundation for putting forth a transformative approach.

AutoInc adds to JGU’s momentum in securing ERC funding to power leapfrog research advancements across critical domains like ecosystem climate resilience, neurodegeneration, RNA biology, human adaptation, and now research computing itself.

“Winning ERC grants enables our scientists to drive innovation, tackle major challenges, and boost Mainz’s reputation as a world-class research hub,” said JGU Vice President for Research and Early Career Scientists, Professor Dietmar Guder.

Staff Writer

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