Wil van der Aalst receives prestigious Humboldt award

The 51 year-old Dutch computer scientist is an acknowledged expert in the fields of process mining, business process management, workflow management systems, and data science. One of the most widely cited researchers in his areas of expertise, Professor van der Aalst has published more than 200 articles in scientific journals, authored or edited 20 books, and contributed to 500 book publications and conference proceedings.


The Alexander von Humboldt professorship is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research through its International Research Fund for Germany. Worth five million euros, the Humboldt professorship is the most valuable research award in Germany. The award serves to finance the professorship for a period of five years. As part of the award nomination, the nominating university must outline a strategy to secure the award recipient’s long-term affiliation.

As RWTH Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg explains, “the award of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship makes it possible for us to recruit an internationally recognized top researcher to Aachen. With Professor van der Aalst’s expertise, we will be able to advance our future plans in the highly important field of data science.”

The award ceremony for the 2018 Alexander von Humboldt Professorships is scheduled to take place in May 2018 in Berlin.

The department of Mathematics and Computer Science of Eindhoven University of Technology congratulates prof. van der Aalst with this prestigious award.

Professor Wil van der Aalst

Van der Aalst studied computer science at Eindhoven University of Technology. In 2000, after having held positions in academia and industry, he was appointed full professor at Eindhoven University of Technology. Since 2003, he has been adjunct professor at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Since 2013, he has been the scientific director of the Data Science Center Eindhoven. Currently, he is a visiting scholar at Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento.

In 2013, van der Aalst, who has an honorary doctorate from Hasselt University, was awarded an honorary guest professorship at Tsinghua University. In 2015, he was appointed honorary professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, and the Academy of Europe. Furthermore, he is a member of the Board of Governors of Tilburg University.

Wil van der Aalst is one of the leading minds in computer science. What is special about his research is that he does not restrict himself to issues of pure data processing using software and algorithms but investigates concrete business processes, workflows and organisational structures.

He acquired his international reputation, in particular, as the founder of the still young field of process mining, whereby the flow of activities and order of events which make up a work process are chronologically reconstructed and analysed using log data. At the same time, consideration is also given to the human actors who carry out the individual steps in the processes. In this way, complex procedures that involve several human actors can be studied, such as airport luggage handling, bank lending or insurance claims processing.

Process mining can be used, for example, to ascertain whether the actual processes coincide with the envisaged process workflows or whether certain steps in a process are particularly time consuming or cost intensive. The open source tool ProM, co-developed by van der Aalst, has become a standard tool worldwide.

At RWTH Aachen University, Alexander von Humboldt Professor Wil van der Aalst will bolster the cross-cutting field of process and workflow analysis and drive cooperation with the engineering, business and economics and medicine faculties, and also industry.

RWTH Aachen University and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation