Ernst W. Mayr

Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr. rer. nat.

Professor Emeritus of Efficient Algorithms
TUM School of Computation, Information and Technology

born May 18, 1950



Ernst W. Mayr holds a degree in Mathematics, focusing primarily on problems relating to the development of efficient algorithms and determining the algorithmic complexity of algorithms and problems. The key areas here are parallel and distributed calculation models, particularly their mathematical modelling and analysis. In addition to developing the most efficient algorithms possible, his work also involves (typically very difficult) derivations of universally applicable lower bounds for the obtainable efficiency of algorithmic solutions. The fundamental results achieved through this process involve (among others): 1. the complexity of term rewriting systems on commutative semi-groups (a structure that plays a significant role in the foundations of informatics). The EXPSPACE characterization of the world problem (i.e. upper and lower bounds) are key here. This is especially true because this algebraic structure is echoed in many other (foundational) areas of informatics and mathematics as well. 2. the decidability of the obtainability/word problems for Petri nets (and vector addition or vector displacement systems with multiple increments). This result also covers the decidability of other important problems for Petri nets (etc.), such as their liveness. 3. the determination of the algorithmic complexity (upper and lower bounds) of foundational algorithmic problems in (symbolic) algorithms for algebraic structures like polynomial rings. One of the more prominent results of this include: a) the EXPSPACE complexity (upper and lower) of the word problem for polynomial ideals; b) the EXPSPACE complexity (upper and lower) of Gröbner base computations (this is a widely used concept). 4. the development of the concept of the P-complete algorithm. His discovery of the parallelization of algorithms (not problems) indicated that numerous canonical approaches are unable to function to obtain efficient parallel solutions for the corresponding problems. Beyond his research work, E.W. Mayr has also made great efforts in furthering academic cooperation with Russia, including by organizing the JASS Summer Academy (as well as the incredibly successful CASC Conference). For more details, see


Short biography

1971 – 1975 Degree in Mathematics, Informatics (and Physics, 2S), Technical University of Munich,
Dipl. Math. (summa cum laude)
1976 – 1977 Graduate Student at MIT EECS, M.Sc.
1980 Doctorate from Technical University of Munich (summa cum laude; supervisor: M. Paul)
1980 – 1981 Visiting Scientist, MIT
1982 – 1989 Assistant Professor, CS Stanford University
1989 – 1993 Professor of Theoretical Informatics, Goethe University Frankfurt (1990-91: Dean)
1993 – 2015 Professor of Efficient Algorithms, Technical University of Munich
2000 – 2010 Head of the Bioinformatics degree program at Ludwig Maximilians University and
Technical University of Munich


Memberships and honors

Member of the German Informatics Society (GI), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Co-editor of Information and Computation (Elsevier)

Founder and long-time organizer of the Computer Algebra in Scientific Computing (CASC) Conference

Founder and long-time organizer of the JASS Summer Academy (St. Petersburg and Moscow)

Vice President of the German Informatics Society (GI)

Professor Honoris Causa at Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU, 2009)

Member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (2009)



  • IBM Faculty Development Award (1983)
  • Presidential Young Investigators Award  (1984)
  • German Research Foundation (DFG) Leibniz-Preis (1997)

You can download "Explanations of honors and awards" here [PDF 215 KB]