Prof. Piotr Sankowski from the University of Warsaw has obtained, for the third time, a grant awarded by ERC. The scientist will try to create simple, efficient and useful algorithms for several algorithmic problems.


Prof. Piotr Sankowski, from the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics, is the first person in Poland who received three European Research Council grants. Prof. Mikołaj Bojańczyk, from the same faculty, has got two grants. The ERC also gave two ERC grants to Prof. Janusz Bujnicki from the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw.


Prof. Sankowski was awarded with the ERC Consolidator grant dedicated to researchers who have recently created an independent, excellent research team and want to strengthen it. The project of scientist is entitled “Towards Unification of Algorithmic Tools”, in short, TUgbOAT.


Over last 50 years, extensive algorithmic research gave rise to a plethora of fundamental results. These results equipped computer scientists with increasingly better solutions to a number of core problems. However, many of these solutions are incomparable. The main reason for that is the fact that many cutting-edge algorithmic results are very specialized in their applicability. Often, they are limited to particular parameter range or require different assumptions. A natural question arises: is it possible to get “one to rule them all” algorithm for some core problems such as matchings and maximum flow? In other words, can we unify our algorithms?


– We believe that some of the recent advances in algorithms provide us with an opportunity to make serious progress towards solving these challenges in the context of several fundamental algorithmic problems. The project is concerned with the creation of simple, efficient and useful algorithms for several algorithmic problems. In other words, we want to come up with the solution that would be the best possible for solving a given problem. In a sense, removing the need to look under the hood when solving it – says Prof. Sankowski.


In 2010, Prof. Sankowski received an ERC Starting grant leading to important discoveries and crucial results. He obtained the grant for the project “PAAl – Practical Approximation Algorithms”. Scientists from the UW as well as scholars from the Sapienza University of Rome were involved in the project. Five years later, ERC funded his next grant in the Proof of Concept call. These types of grants are dedicated to ERC grant holders only, who want to bring ERC-funded ideas to a pre-demonstration and commercialization phase. During the realisation of the project, Prof. Sankowski set up a corporate spin-off called MIM Solutions. The company gathered experts interested in solving practical algorithmic problems efficiently, which finally evolved towards machine learning. Although the MIM Solutions is a company which is not a part of UW, these two entities are still in tight cooperation.