Award to Be Used for Introducing Modern, Computer-based Proof-Assistant Systems to Master's Students in Philosophy, Mathematics, and Computer Science
A teaching project that will take an interdisciplinary approach to introduce students to the current state of research in logic has been chosen to receive the 2015 Teaching Award of Freie Universität Berlin. The research-oriented course for students in master’s programs in philosophy, mathematics, and computer science aims, among other things, to introduce them to computer-based proof-assistant systems. Using this method, the computer scientist Dr. Christoph Benzmüller at Freie Universität Berlin, who designed the proposed course, succeeded in 2013 along with colleagues from TU Vienna, in verifying the so-called ontological proof of God’s existence by the Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel (1906-1978). In doing so, the computer even succeeded in revealing new relevant insights about Gödel’s proof. The Teaching Award includes 10,000 euros and will be presented on April 11. In addition to the winning project, two additional teaching projects will be given support this year.
"Training in logic still plays a very modest role at most universities," says Christoph Benzmüller, who adds that the relevant interdisciplinary discussions in this innovative field are not taught in a transdisciplinary context at all. With his seminar, he hopes to contribute to an impending paradigm change that would remedy the situation by teaching students in master’s programs in mathematics and theoretical philosophy these skills. In these subjects "informal, paper-and-pencil-proofs and arguments are increasingly being supplemented or even replaced by rigorously formalized, computer-verified counterparts. Two doctoral students, Max Wisniewski and Alexander Steen, were involved in developing the concept for the seminar.
Professor Hoffmann-Holland, the vice president of Freie Universität Berlin responsible for teaching, says that the project demonstrates how current research can be integrated in teaching. "What the students learn can be applied in a variety of ways. The field of logic is future-oriented and links various disciplines." In his eyes this project will make a lasting contribution to the development of research-oriented teaching (FoL) at Freie Universität Berlin.
In addition to the winning project, the panel found that two other submitted teaching proposals deserve support in their implementation.
- Dr. Katja Liebal, a professor of comparative developmental psychology at Freie Universität, wants to introduce students to observational research in the field. With a group of young biologists and psychologists in the chimpanzee sanctuary Chimfunshi in Zambia in southern Africa, she aims to collect new data as well as to investigate the conditions under which research on apes is conducted.
- Dr. Martha Ch. Lux-Steiner, the director of the Institute for Heterogeneous Material Systems at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and a professor at Freie Universität Berlin, had applied with her International Summer University on Renewable Energy, ISUenergy. She has been holding the summer school since 2009 in cooperation with several international partner institutions. It is open to graduate students in master’s programs as well as those working on their doctorate.
The Teaching Award of Freie Universität Berlin is part of the university’s concept for research-oriented teaching (FoL). The award recognizes outstanding teaching concepts and projects that integrate the findings of cutting-edge research in teaching at the university. Unlike the teaching awards that various academic departments at Freie Universität Berlin award to individuals, the Teaching Award of Freie Universität is given to innovative teaching projects for implementation during the following academic year. The Teaching Award, which is being conferred for the third time, has an annually changing emphasis. In 2015 proposals were submitted for projects that are research-oriented and sustainable.
The Teaching Award and research-oriented teaching are both components of Freie Universität Berlin’s development strategy. Both are intended to serve to more firmly anchor the university’s excellence in research in its teaching. In 2013 the Teaching Award went to a German-Israeli exchange project for students enrolled in teacher education degree programs. It was taught by Martin Lücke, a professor of history education at Freie Universität Berlin. The 2014 Teaching Award went to a project by Rainer Haag, a professor of chemistry at Freie Universität Berlin. Within this project, students tested application-oriented projects.