Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica

Last updated
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica
Type National research institute
Established 1946
President J. C. M. Baeten
Administrative staff
Location Amsterdam , Netherlands
Website www.cwi.nl

The Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (abbr. CWI; English: "National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science") is a research center in the field of mathematics and theoretical computer science. It is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and is located at the Amsterdam Science Park. This institute is famous as the creation ground of the Python Programming Language. It was a founding member of the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM).

Mathematics field of study concerning quantity, patterns and change

Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure, space, and change.

Theoretical computer science subfield of computer science and of mathematics

Theoretical computer science (TCS) is a subset of general computer science and mathematics that focuses on more mathematical topics of computing and includes the theory of computation.

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research is the national research council of the Netherlands. NWO funds thousands of top researchers at universities and institutes and steers the course of Dutch science by means of subsidies and research programmes. NWO promotes quality and innovation in science.


Early history

The institute was founded in 1946 by Johannes van der Corput, David van Dantzig, Jurjen Koksma, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Marcel Minnaert and Jan Arnoldus Schouten. It was originally called Mathematical Centre (in Dutch: Mathematisch Centrum). One early mission was to develop mathematical prediction models to assist large Dutch engineering projects, such as the Delta Works. During this early period, the Mathematics Institute also helped with designing the wings of the Fokker F27 Friendship airplane, voted in 2006 as the most beautiful Dutch design of the 20th century.[ citation needed ]

Johannes Gaultherus van der Corput was a Dutch mathematician, working in the field of analytic number theory.

David van Dantzig Dutch mathematician

David van Dantzig was a Dutch mathematician, well known for the construction in topology of the dyadic solenoid. He was a member of the Significs Group.

Marcel Minnaert Belgian astronomer

Marcel Gilles Jozef Minnaert was a Dutch astronomer of Belgian origin. He was born in Bruges and died in Utrecht. He is notable for his contributions to astronomy and physics and for a popular book on meteorological optics: Light and colour in the open air, first published in English in 1940.

The computer science component developed soon after. Adriaan van Wijngaarden, considered the founder of computer science (or informatica) in the Netherlands, was the director of the institute for almost 20 years. Edsger Dijkstra did most of his early influential work on algorithms and formal methods at CWI. The first Dutch computers, the Electrologica X1 and Electrologica X8, were both designed at the centre, and Electrologica was created as a spinoff to manufacture the machines.

Adriaan van Wijngaarden Dutch computer scientist

Adriaan "Aad" van Wijngaarden was a Dutch mathematician and computer scientist, who is considered by many to have been the founding father of informatica in the Netherlands.

Electrologica X1

The Electrologica X1 was a digital computer designed and manufactured in the Netherlands from 1958 to 1965. About thirty were produced and sold in the Netherlands and abroad.

The Electrologica X8 was a digital computer designed as a successor to the Electrologica X1 and manufactured in the Netherlands by Electrologica NV between 1964 and 1968.

In 1983, the name of the institute was changed to CWI to reflect a governmental push for emphasizing computer science research in the Netherlands. [1]

Recent research

The institute is known for its work in fields such as operations research, software engineering, information processing, and mathematical applications in life sciences and logistics. More recent examples of research results from CWI include the development of scheduling algorithms for the Dutch railway system (the Nederlandse Spoorwegen, one of the busiest rail networks in the world) and the development of the Python programming language by Guido van Rossum. Python has played an important role in the development of the Google search platform from the beginning, and it continues to do so as the system grows and evolves. [2] Many information retrieval techniques used by packages such as SPSS were initially developed by Data Distilleries, a CWI spinoff. [3] [4]

Operations research, or operational research (OR) in British usage, is a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. Further, the term 'operational analysis' is used in the British military as an intrinsic part of capability development, management and assurance. In particular, operational analysis forms part of the Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisals, which support British defense capability acquisition decision-making.

Software engineering is the application of engineering to the development of software in a systematic method.

Logistics management of the flow of resources

Logistics is generally the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet requirements of customers or corporations. The resources managed in logistics can include physical items such as food, materials, animals, equipment, and liquids; as well as intangible items, such as time and information. The logistics of physical items usually involves the integration of information flow, materials handling, production, packaging, inventory, transportation, warehousing, and often security.

Work at the institute was recognized by national or international research awards, such as the Lanchester Prize (awarded yearly by INFORMS), the Gödel Prize (awarded by ACM SIGACT) or the Spinoza Prize. Most of its senior researchers hold part-time professorships at other Dutch universities, with the institute producing over 170 full professors during the course of its history. Several CWI researchers have been recognized as members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academia Europaea, or as knights in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. [5]

The Gödel Prize is an annual prize for outstanding papers in the area of theoretical computer science, given jointly by European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) and the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computational Theory. The award is named in honor of Kurt Gödel. Gödel's connection to theoretical computer science is that he was the first to mention the "P versus NP" question, in a 1956 letter to John von Neumann in which Gödel asked whether a certain NP-complete problem could be solved in quadratic or linear time.

ACM SIGACT or SIGACT is the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory, whose purpose is support of research in theoretical computer science. It was founded in 1968 by Patrick C. Fischer.

Spinoza Prize annual award in the Netherlands

The Spinoza Prize is an annual award of 2.5 million euro, to be spent on new research given by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. The award is the highest scientific award in the Netherlands. It is named after the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza.

In February 2017, CWI in association with Google announced a successful collision attack on SHA 1 encryption algorithm. [6]

European Internet

CWI was an early user of the Internet in Europe. The first connection in Europe to the NSFnet network, which later developed into the Internet, was established at CWI on 17 November 1988 by Piet Beertema, and cwi.nl was the first national domain name ever issued. [7]

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (one of the largest Internet Exchanges in the world, in terms of both members and throughput traffic) is located at the neighbouring SARA (an early CWI spin-off) and NIKHEF institutes. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) office for the Benelux countries is located at CWI. [8]

Spin-off companies

CWI has demonstrated a continuing effort to put the work of its researchers at the disposal of society, mainly by collaborating with commercial companies and creating spin-off businesses. In 2000 CWI established "CWI Incubator BV", a dedicated company with the aim to generate high tech spin-off companies. [9] Some of the CWI spinoffs include: [10]

Software and languages

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Guido van Rossum Dutch programmer and creator of Python

Guido van Rossum is a Dutch programmer best known as the author of the Python programming language, for which he was the "Benevolent dictator for life" (BDFL) until he stepped down from the position in July 2018.

.nl Internet country-code top level domain for the Netherlands

.nl is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the Netherlands. Registrations are processed via a network of participants. It is one of the more popular ccTLDs, ranked 6th in the quarterly VeriSign Domain Name Industry Brief of September 2016 for the third quarter of 2016, with over 5.6 million registered domain names.


MonetDB is an open-source column-oriented database management system developed at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands. It was designed to provide high performance on complex queries against large databases, such as combining tables with hundreds of columns and millions of rows. MonetDB has been applied in high-performance applications for online analytical processing, data mining, geographic information system (GIS), Resource Description Framework (RDF), text retrieval and sequence alignment processing.

Cornelis Hermanus Antonius "Kees" Koster was a Dutch computer scientist who was a professor in the Department of Informatics at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

Lambert Guillaume Louis Théodore Meertens or L.G.L.T. Meertens is a Dutch computer scientist and professor. He is currently a researcher at the Kestrel Institute, a nonprofit computer science research center in Palo Alto's Stanford Research Park.

Hendrik Lenstra Dutch mathematician

Hendrik Willem Lenstra Jr. is a Dutch mathematician.

Johannes Aldert "Jan" Bergstra is a Dutch computer scientist. His work has focussed on logic and the theoretical foundations of software engineering, especially on formal methods for system design. He is best known as an expert on algebraic methods for the specification of data and computational processes in general.

The ARRA was the first Dutch computer, and was built from relays for the Dutch Mathematical Centre, which later became the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI).

Jurjen Ferdinand Koksma Dutch mathematician

Jurjen Ferdinand Koksma was a Dutch mathematician who specialized in analytic number theory.

Carel S. Scholten was a physicist and a pioneer of computing.

Paul Vitányi Dutch theoretical computer scientist

Paul Michael Béla Vitányi is a Dutch computer scientist, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam and researcher at the Dutch Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica.

Piet Beertema is a Dutch Internet pioneer. On November 17, 1988 at 14:28 hours, he linked the Netherlands as the second country to NSFnet, a precursor to the Internet. Beertema was then working as an administrator at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam.

Jan Karel Lenstra mathematician

Jan Karel Lenstra is a Dutch mathematician and operations researcher, known for his work on scheduling algorithms, local search, and the travelling salesman problem.

Alexander Schrijver mathematician

Alexander (Lex) Schrijver is a Dutch mathematician and computer scientist, a professor of discrete mathematics and optimization at the University of Amsterdam and a fellow at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in Amsterdam. Since 1993 he has been co-editor in chief of the journal Combinatorica.

Bram Jan Loopstra was a Dutch computing pioneer who worked at the Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam and then at Electrologica with Adriaan van Wijngaarden, Carel S. Scholten and Gerrit Blaauw. From 1956 until at least 1963 he was technical director of Electrologica. At his death after a long illness on March 22, 1979, he was adjunct director of the Philips International Institute.

Martin L. Kersten Dutch computer scientist

Martin L. Kersten is a computer scientist with research focus on database architectures, query optimization and their use in scientific databases. He is an architect of the MonetDB system, an open-source column store for data warehouses, online analytical processing (OLAP) and geographic information systems (GIS). He has been (co-) founder of several successful spin-offs of the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI).

Gerrit Lekkerkerker Dutch mathematician

Cornelis Gerrit Lekkerkerker was a Dutch mathematician.

Peter Boncz is a Dutch computer scientist specializing in database systems. He is a researcher at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica and professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the special chair of Large-Scale Analytical Data Management.


  1. Bennie Mols: ERCOM: The Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica turns 60. In: Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, No. 56 (September 2007), p. 43 (online)
  2. "Quotes about Python". Python.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
  3. "SPSS and Data Destileries". Python.org. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  4. Sumath, S; Sivanandam, S.N. (2006). Introduction to Data Mining and its Applications. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 743. ISBN   978-3-540-34350-9 . Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  5. "Lex Schrijver receives EURO Gold Medal 2015". cwi. 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  6. Announcing the first SHA1 collision
  7. (in Dutch) De geschiedenis van SIDN Archived 2013-07-27 at the Wayback Machine . (History of SIDN), Official website of SIDN
  8. "The World Wide Web Consortium - Benelux Office". W3C. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
  9. "Spin-off companies' details". CWI Amsterdam. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
  10. "Spin-off companies". CWI Amsterdam. Retrieved 2014-07-08.

Coordinates: 52°21′23″N4°57′07″E / 52.35639°N 4.95194°E / 52.35639; 4.95194