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


Awards for our researchers Stephan Winkler and Andreas Beham

The Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences (FH OÖ) honors outstanding scientists and scholars actively engaged in research in an annual award ceremony. The most successful among them were acknowledged with Researcher Awards of the FH OÖ in December 2020.

In the field of R&D the FH OÖ has been particularly successful since 2003 and over the years has developed into Austria's No. 1 university of applied sciences and one of the front runners in German-speaking countries. Research & Development at the four faculties is carried out by around 400 FH OÖ professors and scientific staff in more than 400 projects on 17 key topics and 6 excellence fields: Smart Production, Medical Technology, Energy, Food, Automotive and Logistics - practice-oriented with and for companies and institutions Economy and society.

We are delighted to announce that prizes went also to two of our research team this year: Stephan Winkler received the Researcher Award 2020 and Andreas Beham the Junior Researcher Award 2020 for their contributions within their research fields. Congratulations to both of them! 


Fotocredit: Bernhard Plank

Michael Affenzeller @ LT1 on "Prescriptive Analytics"

There was an exciting event on the subject of "Prescriptive Analytics" at the Sofwarepark in Hageberg recently. You can find a TV-report with a shot interview of our research group leader Michael Affenzeller in the LT1 media library:


Screenshot: LT1

Screenshot: LT1


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