Archive for May 2020

PhD and postdoc positions in verification in Switzerland

My group, the Chair of Software Engineering, at the newly created Schaffhausen Institute of Technology has open positions for both PhD students and postdocs. We are looking for candidates with a passion for reliable software and a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical experience in software engineering. Candidates should have degrees in computer science or related fields: a doctorate for postdoc positions, a master’s degree for PhD positions. Postdoc candidates should have a substantial publication record. Experience in one or more of the following fields is a plus:

  • Software verification (axiomatic, model-checking, abstract interpretation etc.).
  • Advanced techniques of software testing.
  • Formal methods, semantics of programming languages, type theory.
  • Design by Contract, Eiffel, techniques of correctness-by-construction.
  • Cybersecurity.

 Compensation at both levels is attractive. The PhD program is conducted in cooperation with partner universities. 

 Interested candidates should send a CV and relevant documents or links to They are also welcome to contact me for details.

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Which one is better? Please answer this poll

I recently read the autobiography [1] of the great mathematician André Weil and came across the following comment (slightly abridged):


Any mathematician worthy of the name has known such states of lucid exaltation, when ideas magically fall into place. Poincaré, in a famous passage, described how he experienced such a moment when he discovered fuchsian functions. Of these states, Gauss reportedly said procreare jucundum (to procreate is a pleasure), while adding: sed parturire molestum (but giving birth is a pain). Unlike sexual pleasure, this one can last hours or even days. Whoever has experienced it wants to renew it, but is impotent to provoke it, except at best through obstinate work, of which it then appears as the reward.


This penetrating observation (if I may use the expression) brings a new perspective to the 18th-century French song famously revived by Joan Baez:


“The joy of love lasts but an instant”, it says,  “the pain of love lasts a lifetime” (plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment, chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie). Clearly, the second part of the verse contains an error: “chagrin d’amour” (the pain of love) must have been a transcription mistake for “comprendre la démonstration par Paul Cohen de l’indépendance de l’hypothèse du continu” (understanding Paul Cohen’s proof of the independence of the continuum hypothesis, which unlike most pains of love does take a lifetime, or two). It is not hard how the confusion could have arisen, as both sound French.

Still, Weil’s observation, if true, is worrying. As everyone can witness almost daily, mathematical ability in humankind is progressing by leaps and bounds. Does this trend portend bad news (echoes of Tolstoi’s Kreutzer Sonata) for our collective reproductive future?

A grave question indeed. To help address it, I have started a scientific poll, which you will find here. The question it asks is of the utmost importance: do you prefer sex or math? To preserve the integrity of the study, please note that by answering the poll you are declaring that you have engaged in both sex and math, although not necessarily at the same time.

As soon as I get the research grant for which I have applied, I will submit the results to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


[1] André Weil, Souvenirs d’Apprentissage, Birkhäuser, Boston, 1991. English translation: The Apprenticeship of a Mathematician, Springer, 1992.


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