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Press Release No. 36 | 7 September 2020
Alexandra Carpentier Wins the 2020 von Kaven Award

DFG recognises mathematician for work on mathematical statistics and machine learning / Award to be presented during the annual conference of the German Mathematical Society

The 2020 von Kaven Award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Founda-tion) will be presented this year to Professor Dr. Alexandra Carpentier for her achievements at the in-terface between mathematics and computer science. Carpentier has been a W2 professor of mathemat-ical statistics and machine learning at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg since 2017. Her research focuses on the combination of uncertainty quantification involving complex applications of artificial intelligence. The €10,000 von Kaven Award will be presented on 14 September 2020 during the annual conference of the German Mathematical Society (DMV) in Chemnitz, which is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The laudation will be given by Professor Dr. Felix Otto, a Leibniz Prize winner and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leip-zig.

Carpentier studied statistics, economics and probability theory at the École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique (ENSAE) in Paris and at Paris Diderot University. After obtaining her doctorate in 2012 with a thesis in applied mathematics at the Institut national de recherche en in-formatique et en automatique (INRIA) in Lille, she spent three years researching at the University of Cambridge. Since 2015 Carpentier has been head of a DFG-funded Emmy Noether independent junior research group, initially at the University of Potsdam and, since 2017, at the Otto-von-Guericke Univer-sity Magdeburg, where Carpentier holds a W2 professorship. In 2016 she was also a visiting professor at the University of Paris-Nanterre. Since 2017, Carpentier has been a project leader in a Collaborative Research Centre and has been involved in two Research Training Groups in mathematics.

In her research, Carpentier looks into questions relating to artificial intelligence: in an increasing num-ber of fields such as medicine and mobility, important decisions are made (semi-) automatically on a computer-aided basis by way of recommendation systems. Here, it is important to know exactly what the estimation error is in order to be able to assess the risk involved. This is particularly true of sequen-tial decisions in which a sequence of decisions is made, each based on the outcome of the previous one. Carpentier’s research therefore aims to achieve mathematically validated risk assessment of sequential decision algorithms using methods of mathematical statistics and machine learning.

The von Kaven Award is generally presented to early career researchers in mathematics involved in the DFG’s Heisenberg and Emmy Noether programmes to honour special achievements. The recipient is selected by the DFG’s mathematics review board. The prize money comes from a foundation estab-lished in 2004 by mathematician Herbert von Kaven together with the DFG. Von Kaven was primarily interested in the fundamentals of mathematics, to which he was committed to promoting throughout his life. He died in 2009 at the age of 101.

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