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The Digital Edition

April 9th 2021

On the 9th of April 2021, the first virtual edition of Awesome IT will be held. Join us for a day of informative and inspiring talks from experts in a wide range of IT-related fields.

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Speakers 2021

Click on a name on the left for more information about a speaker

Veelasha Moonsamy

Veelasha Moonsamy is a tenured research faculty at the Systems Security chair at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. She was previously an Assistant Professor in the Digital Security group at Radboud University and was briefly affiliated with the Software Systems group at Utrecht University in 2018. She received her PhD degree in 2015 from Deakin University (Australia). Her thesis was titled ‘Security and Privacy of Users’ Personal Information on Smartphones’. Her research interests revolves around security and privacy on mobile devices, in particular side- and covert-channel attacks, malware detection, and mitigation of information leaks at application and hardware level.

Talk: Security and Privacy for smart mobile devices

Side-channel attacks on mobile devices have gained increasing attention since their introduction in 2007. While traditional side-channel attacks, such as power analysis attacks and electromagnetic analysis attacks, required physical presence of the attacker as well as expensive equipment, an (unprivileged) application is all it takes to exploit the leaking information on modern mobile devices. Given the vast amount of sensitive information that are stored on smartphones, the ramifications of side-channel attacks affect both the security and privacy of users and their devices. I will present our work on how an adversary can exploit side-channel information, in this case power from the phone battery, to maliciously control a public charging station in order to exfiltrate data from a smartphone via a USB charging cable (i.e. without using the data transfer functionality).

Domain: Cybersecurity, Privacy

Bert de Vries

Bert de Vries received a PhD degree (1991) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. From 1992 until 1999 he worked at Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton (NJ), where he contributed to research projects over a wide range of signal and image processing topics such as word spotting, financial market prediction and breast cancer detection from mammograms. Since April 1999 he has been employed in the hearing aids industry (currently at GN Hearing), both as a Principal Scientist and as a Research Manager. Since January 2012 he is also a professor at the Signal Processing Systems Group at TU Eindhoven (TU/e), where he teaches the graduate-level course "Bayesian Machine Learning". At TU/e he directs the BIASlab team ( of graduate students with whom he conducts research on developing Bayesian machine learning techniques for automated situated design of hearing aid algorithms.

Talk: Nature-inspired AI for Automated Design of Signal Processing Systems

Brains design signal processing algorithms, for instance for speech and object recognition, locomotion, how to drive a car, etc. Apparently, brains design these algorithms automatically, without engineers in-the-loop. In this talk I will first discuss the nature of how brains are capable to design algorithms automatically. This will involve revealing a link between physical brain processes and the type of intelligent information processing that is necessary for purposeful design. Next, I will report on our research efforts to translate the neuroscience of natural brain processes to engineering: can we build nature-inspired synthetic agents that automate the design of signal processing algorithms?

Domain: Artificial Intelligence, Signal Processing

Jonas Helsen

Jonas Helsen is a postdoc at the university of Amsterdam and the quantum computing institute QuSoft, where he investigates ways to make quantum algorithms more robust against errors.

Talk: Quantum supremacy: fact or fiction?

Last year Google announced that they had achieved "quantum supremacy", i.e. they performed a task on a prototype quantum computer that is believed to be impossible to do on even the biggest classical supercomputer. In this talk I will critically examine this experiment, as well as the concept of quantum supremacy more broadly. Can Google's claims be considered valid? And what does it mean for the near future of quantum computers?

Domain: Quantum computing

Stacey Jeffery

I've been a Senior Researcher at CWI since January 2017, where my main areas of interest are quantum algorithms and cryptographic protocols, and models of quantum computation. Before that, I was an IQIM Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) at Caltech. I received my PhD from the University of Waterloo in 2014, where I was affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), supervised by Michele Mosca, and informally co-advised by Frédéric Magniez.

Talk: Introduction to Quantum Algorithms

What's all the fuss about quantum computers? Your uncle keeps posting articles on Facebook about how quantum computers are going to solve global warming, by trying all solutions at once, but you're skeptical, because that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Allow me to try to clear some things up. In this talk, I will describe the mathematical model underlying a quantum computer, and why it's different from a regular computer. I will describe some of the known applications of quantum computers, and some of the things they can't do.

Domain: Quantum Computing

Machiel van der Bijl

Machiel van der Bijl is founder-CEO of Axini BV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Machiel has a broad experience in both theoretical and practical computer science. Before founding Axini he worked for several companies in the financial and embedded/high tech sector. Machiel has a MSc and a PhD degree in computer science from the University of Twente.

Talk: Model-based testing, theory and practice in 1 hour

Everybody dislikes bugs in software. The most used method to find and prevent bugs is testing. And most software-engineers dislike testing maybe even more than bugs. Wouldn't it be great if you could automate testing without writing or programming tests?

Great news, this already exists! With names like scriptless test-automation, no-code test-automation or Model Based Testing (MBT). MBT is the next step in system engineering and test-automation. It has a solid scientific foundation in decades of formal methods research. MBT is an approach that closes the loop between specification and the system that is created. It enables total automation of the test-process. This means that a computer can perform test-case generation, execution and checking of the outcome of the test-execution. As a result, MBT can test with unprecedented speed and thoroughness. The crux of MBT is in the modeling.

How do you explain to a computer what a computer system is? In this presentation you get hands-on experience with Model Based Testing in the Axini toolset, including the theory behind it. You will get a bird’s eye view of what it means to model, execute tests and analyse the results.

Domain: Software Engineering, Testing, Critical Software

Lieven Vandersypen

Lieven Vandersypen is the Scientific Director of QuTech and Professor at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the TU Delft. He studied mechanical engineering at the KU Leuven and received his doctorate from Stanford University. Lieven is an expert in quantum computing experiments and semiconductor structures.

Talk: Quantum Computing: State of the Art and Open Challenges

Quantum computers could tackle problems in materials science, chemistry and mathematics that are well beyond the reach of supercomputers. This remarkable promise derives from the use of quantum bits, which can exist in arbitrary combinations of 0 and 1.

This leads to a computing power that doubles with every additional quantum bit. The challenge is that quantum bits are extremely fragile and their state is easily perturbed. Recent theoretical and experimental advances have made it clear that the resulting errors can in principle be corrected. What it takes is a system containing thousands or millions of quantum bits that are all kept under control with great precision.

This talk will introduce the basic concepts behind quantum computing, summarize the state-of-the-art, and present the major open challenges in the practical realization of large-scale quantum computers.

Domain: Quantum Computing

Pilou Bazin

Pierre-Louis (Pilou) Bazin is a Senior Researcher in the Integrative Model-based Cognitive Neuroscience (IMCN) laboratory of the Psychology department at the University of Amsterdam, and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. His interests lie at the intersection between Cognitive Neuroscience, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and Medical Image Computing with a particular focus on computational neuroanatomy using advanced MRI techniques, and the implications of brain structure for cognitive function and human behavior.

Talk: Diving deep into the human brain with computational imaging

The human brain is a fascinating system. From its size, the diversity of its components, or the complexity of its connections, it stands as one of the most elaborate things we can study. In this talk I will outline how advanced computational imaging techniques, from ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging to 3D microscopy, are helping us shed light on one small but vital region of the brain: the subcortex. This presentation will not only look at the results, but focus also on the computational techniques we built along the way, thus illustrating how information technology has become a necessary and central part of modern neuroscience.

Iris Groen

Dr. Groen is an assistant-professor at the Institute for Informatics. Her interdisciplinary research takes place at the interface of informatics and cognitive neuroscience/psychology. She studies visual perception in the human brain using computational modeling, human behavior, and neuroimaging methods. She is interested in understanding how the brain converts light rays coming into our eyes into a ‘neural code’ in order to perform visually guided tasks, such as scene categorization, navigation and object detection. To understand this process, she uses modeling approaches from AI and computer vision and tests to what extent these models can predict human behavior and brain responses.

Talk: From pixels to meaning: revealing the neural computations underlying human vision

Humans are incredibly good at recognizing pictures. You need only a single glance, or less than 1/20th of a second of exposure, to an arbitrary image (e.g., a photo on Instagram) to understand its content, even if you never saw it before. Despite its apparent effortlessness, this ability involves the concerted activity of millions of neurons in a complex network of brain regions. Up to a few years ago, no artificial computational model was able to mimic human’s astonishing ability to recognize visual content – until the advent of deep convolutional neural networks (DCNNs), which now achieve human-level accuracy on many visual recognition tasks (e.g., labeling objects in images). Interestingly, the design of DCNNs and some of their computations were originally inspired by the workings of real neurons in actual brains. Their unrivalled performance and loose similarity to neural processes therefore raises the question of whether DCNNs could be good models of how visual perception works in our own brains. This idea has led to a surge of studies comparing DCNN models to human visual perception and brain data. In this talk, I will first review some of the original studies demonstrating similarity of DCNNs and human brains, and then describe my own work comparing DCNNs to human perception. Specifically, I will illustrate this approach with two recent studies (Groen et al., 2018, eLife; King, Groen et al., 2019, NeuroImage) in which we collected human behavioral and brain measurements of scene perception and tested how well DCNN models could explain them. Finally, I will discuss how this research - which can be thought of as belonging to a relatively new discipline called ‘computational cognitive neuroscience’ - contributes to a virtuous cycle in which neuroscience and AI reinforce one another.

Domain: Computational Cognitive Neuroscience

Christoph Heller

Christoph Heller is in charge of the FPGA designs at IMC’s futures trading desk. He is specialized in low-latency FPGA designs and the translation of trading algorithms into efficient hardware solutions. Christoph graduated in electrical engineering at RWTH Aachen University (Germany) and is holding a PhD from Stuttgart University (Germany). Prior to joining IMC in 2016, he has worked 10+ years as a research specialist in the aerospace industry.

Talk: When every Nanosecond Counts – Creating Fast Electronic Trading Systems

This talk is sponsored by IMC

Nowadays, the vast majority of financial securities are traded electronically: data centers have replaced crowded trading floors and digital communication networks have replaced the shouting and hand signs of the open outcry trading of the past. Electronic trading improved throughput, fairness and determinism on the markets, but also started a speed race between market participants. Today, on technically advanced exchanges, latency differences in the single-digit nanosecond range can make the difference between getting or missing a trade. In competitive markets, participants therefore need extremely fast trading systems to monetize profitable opportunities. In this talk, I will explain the basics of electronic trading and the interaction of a trading system with an exchange. Based on that, I will present and discuss various approaches to optimize the latency and maximize the performance of an electronic trading system.

Riemer van Rozen

Riemer van Rozen is a postdoctoral researcher at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) and a lecturer of Software Evolution at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Since 2011 he has collaborated with industry in several applied research projects on languages and tools that speed-up development and improve software quality. His research focuses on generic solutions for domain-specific languages and live programming environments in general, and automated game design in particular.

Talk: Languages of Games and Play

Digital games are a powerful means for creating enticing, beautiful, educational, and often highly addictive interactive experiences that impact the lives of billions of players worldwide. However, developing high quality games is dreadfully complicated because game design is intrinsically complex.

In his PhD thesis, Riemer van Rozen has explored what informs the design and construction of good games in order to learn how to speed-up game development. He has studied to what extent languages, notations, patterns and tools, can offer experts theoretical foundations, systematic techniques and practical solutions they need to raise their productivity and improve the quality of games and play.

This talk discusses languages of games and play: language-centric approaches for tackling challenges and solving problems related to game design and development. Riemer will give a bird's-eye perspective on this multi-faceted research area by giving illustrative examples and highlighting challenges and opportunities.

Domain: Software Engineering, Game Development

Mary Grygleski

Mary is a Senior Developer Advocate at IBM with the Websphere team, focusing on Liberty, Microprofile, Java, Open Source, Cloud, Reactive and Distributed Systems. She started working as a software engineer with C and Unix, then transitioned into Java, Open Source, and web development in the new Millennium, and now she has ventured into Reactive, Mobile, and the DevOps/Cloud space. In her previous incarnations, she worked for several technology product companies in the Route 128 Boston Technology Corridor as well the San Francisco Bay Area. She now resides in the Greater Chicago area, and is the President and Executive Board Member of the Chicago Java Users Group (CJUG). She is also an active co-organizers for the Data, Cloud and AI In Chicago, Chicago Cloud, and IBM Cloud Chicago meetup groups. Mary continues to be amazed by how software innovations can dramatically transform our lives. Despite the many challenges in an ever-evolving technical world, she gets energized by the constant change and believes that she has uncovered the pathway to staying young. She can’t wait to see what the next tech wave will be like.

Talk: Introduction to Cloud and Cloud Native Computing

Cloud Computing is ubiquitous these days. It seems to be as common as the air that we breathe in, without which there would be no running computer systems. But what exactly is Cloud Computing? What about Cloud Native Computing? Are these terms referring to the same thing? If not, what are the differences? This lively talk will go over the fundamentals of Cloud Computing, and then move on to explain what Cloud Native really means. We will also venture into the console of a major Cloud Provider, and look around to see some key features that it has. We will then examine a basic Cloud Native Java application to understand how containers fit into the picture. For someone who is new to Cloud Computing, s/he would be able to start to understand the differences and similarities between Cloud and Cloud Native Computing.

Domain: Cloud Computing

Jan Egbertsen

As Innovation Manager of the Port of Amsterdam, Jan is, among others, responsible for innovations related to energy transition, logistics and IT.

Talk: The Role of IT in the Optimization of Seaports

What role does IT play in the optimization of an international Seaport? In this talk, Jan will talk about IT from the perspective of a port authority. He will touch on the role this authority has in collaborating with companies, and how it can contribute to the development of a smart port concept.


Click or tap on a talk for more information.

Minsky Room

Dijkstra Room

Van Rossum Room


Virtual doors open

09:30 - 10:00


Lieven Vandersypen

10:00 - 11:00

Quantum Computing: State of the Art and Open Challenges

Bert de Vries

10:00 - 11:00

Nature-inspired AI for Automated Design of Signal Processing Systems

Riemer van Rozen

10:00 - 11:00

Languages of Games and Play


Pilou Bazin

11:15 - 12:15

Diving deep into the human brain with computational imaging

Jan Egbertsen

11:15 - 12:15

The Role of IT in the Optimization of Seaports

Christoph Heller

11:15 - 12:15

When every Nanosecond Counts – Creating Fast Electronic Trading Systems



12:30 - 13:30


Jonas Helsen

13:30 - 14:30

Quantum supremacy: fact or fiction?

Stacey Jeffery

13:30 - 14:30

Introduction to Quantum Algorithms

Iris Groen

13:30 - 14:30

From pixels to meaning: revealing the neural computations underlying human vision


Mary Grygleski

14:45 - 15:45

Introduction to Cloud and Cloud Native Computing

Veelasha Moonsamy

14:45 - 15:45

Security and Privacy for smart mobile devices

Machiel van der Bijl

14:45 - 15:45

Model-based testing, theory and practice in 1 hour


Closing & drinks

15:45 - 17:00