A look back at the 5th Heidelberg Laureate Forum

The 5th Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) concluded in an appropriate fashion on September 29, at Heidelberg Castle, with its future firmly intact. In 2012, the idea of the HLF was born as a five-year experiment, which materialized with the first event in September of 2013. This year, the experiment officially became a fixture with the signing of a contract extension between the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) and the award-granting institutions: the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA). To celebrate the significant, albeit young, milestone, the program of the 5th HLF was even more robust than in previous years.  

A farewell dinner at Heidelberg Castle fittingly capped a week defined by intense scientific exchange and social interaction that transcended generations and disciplines. The 5th HLF united 24 laureates, who have been distinguished with the most renowned awards in mathematics and computer science, with 200 carefully selected young researchers from over 60 countries. Following its founding principle, the HLF gives young researchers the opportunity to profoundly interact with their scientific role models: recipients of the Abel Prize, ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing, Fields Medal and the Nevanlinna Prize.

Characterized by a unique atmosphere that enables both highly scientific and informal exchanges among the participants, the format of the HLF is distinctive to other conferences. Laureate lectures highlight the scientific program, which is enhanced by postdoc workshops, PhD poster presentations and panel of experts who address a specific theme. Coupled with a diverse social program that inspirits the participants to cultivate their connections, the Forum provides the chance to build a vital network.

Quantum computing was the theme of the Hot Topic this year in which a panel of experts, moderated by the science journalist Philip Ball, gave an overview of the current trends and possible applications of quantum computing in their lectures. The panelists debated which expectations are realistic, the major obstacles and discussed the opportunities for young researchers who are looking for a door into the field.

An additional program staple is the ‘Lindau Lecture’, which stands as a symbol for the HLF’s strong bond with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. In 2017, the ‘Lindau Lecture’ was given by Aaron Ciechanover, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2004, and was entitled, “The Personalized Medicine Revolution: Are We Going to Cure all Diseases and at What Price?”

The HLFF presented an exhibition in the Old University of Heidelberg as part of the accompanying program, which was open to the public. “Math<=>Art” displayed the work of the late Aldo Spizzichino, an astrophysicist with a passion for programming that ‘painted’ brilliant images using the superimposition of vector graphics. Over 1,000 visitors experienced the Spizzichino’s work, which was presented from September 23–28.

The 6th HLF will take place from September 23-28, 2018, and we encourage young researchers in mathematics and computer science to save the date. The application tool will be opened for young researchers this fall.

Videos of the laureate lectures are available to stream or on YouTube, and photos of the 5th HLF are available for download on the Flickr gallery.


The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) annually organizes the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), which is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world. The 6th Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place from September 23–28, 2018. The HLFF was established and is funded by the German foundation Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The Scientific Partners of the HLFF are the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and Heidelberg University. The HLF is strongly supported by the award-granting institutions, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the International Mathematical Union (IMU), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA).

(Press Release)