1st HeuristicLab Community Meeting

Our open source software HeuristicLab - used for optimization and machine learning - has been in development since 2002 and had mainly international users in the past. In recent years we have observed that a growing group (especially at the JKU, FH and non-university research institutions) is forming here as well, which is modeling and optimizing with HeuristicLab or sees potential in doing this more intensively in the future.

From this background we started a first event, to bring together the groups of HeuristicLab users, developers and those yet to become one for a constructive exchange and friendly get-together. The first event of this kind took place on June 21st, 2021.

Head of the research group HEAL, Michael Affenzeller, gave a first input on research group activities, followed by Stefan Wagner (HeuristicLab), Andreas Beham (optimization of production and logistics) and Gabriel Kronberger (data analytics and machine learning).

After that, Wolfgang Roland from the Institute for Polymer Extrusion and Compounding (IPEC) and Siegfried Silber from the Linz Center of Mechatronics (LCM), talked about their experience using HeuristicLab.

Finally, Stephan Winkler lead through a panel discussion with Stefan Wagner, Wolfgang Roland, Robert Wille, Siegfried Silber and Michael Affenzeller to talk about the future development of the software.

New Project with FunnelFox – “AI for new customers”

HEAL and FunnelFox have just started a new collaborative project to develop an AI-driven recommendation system for new customers for the FunnelFox distribution software. The project is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs within the FFG General Programme.

FunnelFox offers an e-mail integration for CRM systems which connects with the e-mail account of a sales representative and automatically synchronizes all customer e-mails to the CRM system.

Although there is more data today than ever before, most sales teams struggle to work data-driven. This is partly because most companies do not have data science experts in the sales team. Especially with SMEs, there are often no data science competencies at all in the company.

Furthermore, the data environment in sales is very complex, with many providers and many different types of data such as company data, personal data, events, new hires, and other specializations within these categories.

The FunnelFox software supports the sales process from the first contact to success. The new recommendation system shall help to find ideal customer profiles including the optimal moment for establishing contacts, so-called "Predictive Lead Generation".

FunnelFox is looking for a Junior Python Developer to expand their platform and to participate in the project. For further information please contact Mr. Vincent Jong. 

Research Group HEAL strongly represented at GPTP 2021

Participation in the Workshop on Genetic Programming Theory & Practice (GPTP) is only possible on invitation. Therefore, we are pleased that HEAL members have been part each year since 2013. This year, Prof. Stephan Winkler was even one of the organizers of the workshop.

Normally taking place in Michigan - either at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or the Michigan State University - this year the workshop was hosted by ZOOM from May 19-21.



Our good friend Nicolas Freitag McPhee earned the 2020–21 University of Minnesota Morris Faculty Distinguished Research Award - an award that recognizes sustained research and artistic productivity of a Morris faculty member over the course of a career!

Nic McPhee has authored and co-authored many relevant publications especially in the field of genetic programming like "A Field Guide To Genetic Programming" (one of the most read and cited books in the field!).

We would like to congratulate you, Nic, to your award and incredible achievements!


(Photo from before Covid19)


Competition to be held as part of the 2021 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2021) organized by ACM SIGEVO (

Competition webpage:

In this competition we give you a server where you can delve into two challenging and mysterious worlds of blocks and stacks. The hero in these worlds are robotic cranes that are fearlessly stacking and delivering blocks. Did you ever wish to take control of such a robot solving a herculean task? Well, now is your chance! Our cranes want to do a good job and therefore rely on YOUR optimization skills! They wait for you to tell it which blocks to pick up and where to drop them off so that the continuing stream of incoming blocks is dealt with most effortlessly.

A 15 minutes getting started tutorial is available on the competition webpage which shows how you can run a (pretty bad) sample policy. This is implemented in four different languages: C++, Python, C#, and Rust. However, you can use any other programming language that you like! The basic requirements is that you have an implementation of ZeroMQ and Protobuf. We aimed to make the topic of optimization in dynamic or uncertain environments as easy to approach as possible and yet create a challenging and also rewarding experience.

There are two tacks with increasing complexity and challenge. Each time you have one hour in real-time where you decide on the cranes’ actions. In the first track “Hotstorage” you are controlling one crane that serves one arrival stack and one handover stack using a range of buffer stacks. In the second track “Rolling mill” you are controlling two cranes with capacity > 1 that serve a larger number of arrival stacks and two handover stacks. You can compete in either or both tracks. You are given certain training scenarios to test your solver with.

This competition is hosted by Andreas Beham, Stefan Wagner, Sebastian Leitner, Johannes Karder, and Bernhard Werth at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria ( Hagenberg Campus within the research project Josef Ressel Center for Adaptive Optimization in Dynamic Environments ( led by Stefan Wagner and funded by the Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft ( If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact us at!

You can also publish a 2-page summary of your contributions in the Companion Materials of the Proceedings of ACM Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2021). Deadline for these 2-page summaries is April 12th. Instructions are given [*], however, only 2 pages are allowed. Submission to the GECCO proceedings is not required to participate in the competition, nor is it required to attend GECCO. The announcement of the winner will be made during GECCO 2021.

We hope that you will have fun participating in this challenge! The deadline is Saturday June, 27 2021 (anywhere in the world). For more information please visit our webpage



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