Using mathematics to improve rail cargo planning

Every year, around 8,400 employees transport more than 100 million tonnes of goods on behalf of Rail Cargo Austria. 620 traction units and 21,500 goods wagons are required purely for rail cargo operations. In the case of highly complex logistics tasks such as this, the deployment of man and machine requires careful planning. Mathematicians working on a project funded by FFG are now developing algorithms designed to significantly enhance the planning process.

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Building genuine (decision-making) behaviour into economic models

Economists endeavour to emulate the behaviour of actors in economic contexts in order to calculate the consequences. The difficulty is this: Many at times restrictive assumptions concerning the behaviour of actors do not reflect the real world. A new project funded by the Anniversary Fund of the OeNB (Oesterreichische Nationalbank) aims to get a better grasp on reality.

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Swarms take over production

Scientists working on the research project SWILT are developing Industry 4.0 algorithms inspired by nature.

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Automatic log-loading at sawmills

Sawmills can already transform wooden logs into planks at lightning speed. In contrast, the process of unloading the logs from the truck and transferring them to the sawmill is relatively slow. A project funded by the FFG is now exploring ways to automate this step.

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Efficiency in the great big data cloud

Every minute, video material amounting to roughly 400 hours of viewing time is uploaded to YouTube. Users watch one billion hours’ worth of videos every single day, according to the channel’s own statistics. This data traffic between the YouTube “cloud” and the terminal devices, more than half of which are mobile devices, requires efficient organisation. The computer scientist Radu Prodan specialises in the efficiency aspects of these distributed and parallel systems. In the following interview, he discusses the possibilities and impossibilities that still lie ahead and that present enormous challenges for technology, humankind, and nature.

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Pursuing the research objective of a more unified and democratic social media ecosystem

Facebook, Twitter and Co. are centralised platforms that are owned by private corporations and that control the respective networks unilaterally. An international project financed by EU-H2020 under the project leadership of Radu Prodan (University of Klagenfurt) aims to create a decentralised social media ecosystem using blockchain technology.

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Can novels make us care about others? A study based on ethnic American literatures

When President Donald Trump addresses the nation, he often resorts to discriminatory stereotypes when referring to African American, Mexican American and Muslim American communities. The narrative that suggests that these groups represent a threat to the American nation is shaping a number of current debates, but there are also important counternarratives. Within the scope of a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), scholars from the field of American Studies are investigating how ethnic American literary texts are inviting readers to imaginatively step into the shoes of a character who is different from themselves and to see the world through that character’s eyes.

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Conflict as part of a European democracy

The EU H2020 project TRACES combines the spheres of the arts and science to encourage the joint development of new discussion spaces dedicated to contentious and painful historical events, the effects of which continue to unfold, even today. The project, which has now entered the last of three stages, has been awarded the “European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH) label”. In this interview, project co-ordinator Klaus Schönberger, professor at the Department of Cultural Analysis, talks about the insights that have been gained so far.

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Is a team composed of the best always the best team?

At the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014, Russia’s ice hockey “dream team”, programmed for gold, lost to Finland during the quarter finals following a series of disappointing games. They were eliminated even though the team was effectively comprised entirely of superstars, the most powerful individual players from all of the nation’s teams. Was it a simple coincidence, or is there a systematic explanation?

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Vom Außen aufs Innere schließen: Inverse Probleme in der Mathematik ermöglichen neue Einblicke

Inverse Probleme in der Mathematik bestimmen die Ursachen für Effekte: Beispielsweise kann man über das Messen von Spannungsverteilung an der Körperoberfläche auf die Beschaffenheit des Gewebes im Körper schließen. Die Lösung solcher Probleme ist derzeit häufig sehr rechenzeitintensiv. Barbara Kaltenbacher arbeitet daher nun in einem FWF-Projekt an neuen Rechenverfahren für allgemeine inverse Probleme.

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