Here Comes the Sun: Heliostat Optimization

Heliostats are solar power plants that collect sun light by mirrors - sometimes hundreds of them - sending it to a receiver where the energy is converted. The main challenge is how to distribute the mirrors such that a maximum of light is collected. Prof. Manuel Torrilhon from MathCCES collaborated with Prof. Alexander Mitsos and his graduate student Corey Noone (both from MIT) to find a bio-mimetic mirror layout that is inspired from the arrangement of sunflower seeds. The result decreases the area needed for the heliostat and increases the over-all efficiency at the same time. The paper will be published in the journal 'Solar Energy'. Additionally, MIT and RWTH are applying for a patent together with the involved researchers.
Alexander Mitsos was a Junior Research Group Leader at the AICES Graduate School of RWTH in 2008.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
January 11, 2012
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Prize of "Beste Selbstständige Lehre" for Prof. Martin Grepl

With the "Beste Selbstständige Lehre", outstanding RWTH Aachen scientists are awarded a prize for their great commitment shown in their lectures and tutorials. The prize was awarded within the frame of the "AbsolventenTag der Mathematik" this autumn.

Location: RWTH Aachen
Date: November 2011
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Gauss Lecture given by Prof. Wolfgang Dahmen

On Oct 28, 2011, Prof. Wolfgang Dahmen delivered the second 2011 Gauss Lecture of the Deutsche Mathematiker Vereinigung. His lecture, entitled "Compressive Sensing - oder die Kunst der Abkürzung", was held at the Alte Mensa Forum, University of Mainz.
The Gauss Lectures are usually held twice a year. Speakers are invited as a special distinction, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to mathematics.

Prof. Alexander Mitsos wins poster award at the Planet XMap 2011

Former AICES Junior Research Group Leader Prof. Alexander Mitsos of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Ioannis N. Melas ,Mr. Dimitris E. Messinis, and Dr. Leonidas G. Alexopoulos of the National Technical University of Athens as well as Dr. Julio Saez-Rodriguez of the European Bioinformatics Institute are the winners of the poster award at the 2011 Planet XMap, that was held this year in Vienna. The title of their presentation was "Construction of large signaling pathways from phosphoproteomic data". This work was co-sponsored by AICES, Virtual Liver Network, and Rockwell International Career Development Professorship.

2011 Planet XMap, USA
October, 2011

Current Control Theory Must Be Revised for Biology, Study Finds

In a brief communication arising published Oct. 20 in Nature, Dr. F. J. Müller, CAU Kiel, and Prof. A. Schuppert at AICES, RWTH Aachen, show that today's established high-profile approaches (1) for systems control are severely limited in their generalization for the control of biological systems (2). This finding has direct implications for biomedical research and its current applications such as in the field of stem cell biology.
The German researchers propose that a future control theory for biology must cover self-regulation features of living cells resulting in a significant reduction of dimensionality observed in empirical data. These often underappreciated features of biology unfortunately cannot be sufficiently explained and utilized by the established control theory approaches. In their response to the points raised by Müller and Schuppert, the respected group around Albert-Lazlo Barabási states consequently on their general control theory: "our [previous] result hides subtleties that reveal as much about controllability as about the limits of our current understanding of biological networks" (3).
Schuppert explains: “In order to fully control a system—say for example a stem cell scientist wants to differentiate a stem cell into dopaminergic neurons, the type of cells, which are lost for example in Parkinson's Disease—the researcher ideally needs to ‘fully control’ the biological system. Following the current state-of-the-art control theory concepts, one would need to drive nearly all genes in such a process towards the desired cell population, something that’s basically impossible to do in reality.
"Evidence in the field and formalized by us, draws a completely different picture: We have very good reasons to believe, that only a few, cleverly chosen inputs can fully control and drive for example stem cells towards becoming the ‘perfect’ therapeutic agent. The key question is now, how can we find this ‘perfect linchpin’ for exerting full control over a biological system–and that’s what we are working on right now!"
This cutting edge type of research will be further pursued in a close collaboration between the systems biology expert Schuppert and the stem cell biologist Müller.

  • 1. Liu, Y.-Y., Slotine, J.-J. & Barabási, A.-L. Controllability of complex networks. Nature 473, 167–173 (2011).
  • 2. Müller, F.-J. & Schuppert, A. Few inputs can reprogram biological networks. Nature online (2011).doi:10.1038/nature10543
  • 3. Liu, Y.-Y., Slotine, J.-J. & Barabási, A.-L. Reply to Müller and Schuppert. Nature online (2011). doi:10.1038/nature10544