Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis


New hourly-paid teachers for spring 2020

14. October 2019
Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis is looking for new hourly-based teachers for spring 2020. Regarding teaching in mathematics, we expect the applicants to have completed at least 20 credits of mathematical studies at university level with good grades. Regarding teaching in systems analysis (courses MS-C/E2xxx), we expect the applicants to have completed the course they are interested in. If you have previous experience in teaching, it is considered as an advantage, but is not necessary. This is a part-time job (2-4 hours/week). The salary is 30-40 euros/teaching hour based on your education level. In addition, a fee of 300-400 euros will be paid for grading exercises and exams.

Attach a cv, a transcript of records, and an open motivation letter as one PDF file.

Fill in an electronic application form on Thursday 7 November 2019
at the latest.

Based on the applications, we invite some of the applicants for web interview.

More information:

Defence of dissertation in the field of Mathematics, Teemu Häkkinen, M.Sc. (Tech.), 21.10.2019

10. October 2019

In the dissertation “On Computational modeling of Biological Development” the biological patterning and growth were investigated by means of computational simulation. The focus of the research was on understanding the patterning of taste papillae and the formation of tooth enamel.

Opponent: Professor Nicolas Goudemand, Institut de Génomifique Fonctionnelle de Lyon (IGFL), ENS Lyon, France.

Custos: Professor Antti Hannukainen, Aalto University School of Science, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis.

Contact information: Teemu Häkkinen, University of California, San Francisco, +1-(415)-676-0215,

The dissertation is publicly displayed 10 days before the defence at the noticeboard of the School of Science in Konemiehentie 2, Espoo.

Defense of dissertation in the field of Mathematics, Matthias Grezet, M.Sc., 17.10.2019

2. October 2019

The goal of the dissertation "On Matroid Theory and Distributed Data Storage" is to obtain tradeoffs between the main parameters of a distributed storage system with locality, as well as to analyse the repair properties of certain optimal storage codes. This is done by developing connections between storage codes and matroids.

In the last few years, the development of web services and social media content has generated an astronomical quantity of digital data. From the point of view of a single user, cloud storage allows for a constant and remote access to the data without overwhelming their own storage capacity. The same benefits apply to companies as well, on a much larger scale. Therefore, huge data storage systems were built by the big information technology companies such as Amazon and Microsoft to offer cloud storage and cloud computing. The starting point of this thesis is to study how to efficiently and reliably store data. Since the data is spread amongst multiple storage servers, a storage system has to deal with several server failures on a daily basis. To prevent from data loss, it is necessary to store redundant data alongside the initial data by using a storage code. The amount of redundant data in the system is referred to as the storage overhead. When a server fails, a new server is added to the system and nearby servers are contacted to reconstruct the lost data. The number of servers contacted for repairing a server failure is called the locality.

This thesis focuses on the notion of locality. More precisely, the main goal is to derive tradeoffs between the storage overhead, the failure tolerance, and the locality when the underlying code alphabet is fixed. Deriving a tradeoff is important in practice as it characterises the best possible codes. Furthermore, since the alphabet relates to the repair complexity and affects the different aforementioned notions, it is interesting to derive alphabet-dependent tradeoffs. To approach this problem, we use the internal structure of the storage codes and the relation between codes and matroids. Matroids are interesting mathematical objects on their own right and provide useful tools to analyse the internal structure of the storage codes. In addition to deriving tradeoffs, matroidal tools help in the design of efficient repair processes for storage codes.   

Opponent: Dr. Thomas Britz, University of New South Wales, Australia

Custos: Professor Camilla Hollanti, Aalto University School of Science, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis

Doctoral candidate: Matthias Grezet, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis,, +358 505052525

The dissertation is publicly displayed 10 days before the defence at the noticeboard of the School of Science in Konemiehentie 2, Espoo.

Dr. Raimo P. Hämäläinen has been selected to receive the 2019 Frank P. Ramsey Medal.

4. September 2019
Please, read more here:

Defence of dissertation in the field of Systems and Operations Research, Vilma Virasjoki, M.Sc. (Tech.) 6.9.2019

27. August 2019

Dissertation "Optimization Models for Assessing Energy Systems in Transition" presents models for assessing the ongoing transition of energy systems.

Opponent: Professor Steven Gabriel, University of Maryland, USA.

Custos: Professor Ahti Salo Aalto University School of Science, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis

Contact information: Vilma Virasjoki, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis,

Ahti Salo received the Edgeworth-Pareto Award

21. August 2019
Ahti Salo. Image; Matthew Allinson.
Ahti Salo received the Edgeworth-Pareto Award in Istanbul at the 25th Conference of the International Society on Multiple Criteria Decision Making (MCDM). Professor Salo works at the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. His research is focused on developing and applying methods for solving decision problems in which many objectives, major uncertainties, limited resources, and logical constraints must be accounted for.

The Edgeworth-Pareto Award is given biennially as the highest distinction of the Society to celebrate “a researcher or practitioner of MCDM who has demonstrated a high level of creativity in developing novel areas of application of MCDM and associated methodology”. Aalto University has a very long and strong tradition in the field of MCDM. Its Emeritus Professors Jyrki Wallenius and Raimo P. Hämäläinen received this Award, Wallenius in 1994 and Hämäläinen in 2004.

Salo has also received other awards for his work. For instance, he and his collaborators Jeffrey Keisler and Alec Morton won the 2013 Publication Award of the INFORMS Decision Analysis Society for their book on portfolio decision analysis.

“Conventional methods of decision analysis help pick one good alternative from many alternatives. Our work on portfolio decision analysis extends these methods to problems in which the number of alternatives can be very high and many of them will be selected. We have successfully worked on many applications in areas such as energy, healthcare and risk management”, explains Salo.

Medals for Aalto students in an international math competition

14. August 2019
Kuva: Selim Virtanen
From left: Iiro Kumpulainen, Aman Sher Agha, Alvar Kallio, Selim Virtanen and Pekka Alestalo

A team of Aalto University students participated in the International Mathematics Competition for University Students 2019 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria at the end of July.

The team was very successful, receiving three medals and an honorary mention. Selim Virtanen received a silver medal and bronze medals went to Alvar Kallio and Iiro Kumpulainen, whereas Aman Sher Agha obtained an honorary mention.

As in the International Math Olympiad for high school students, several medals of each color are given. This year the requirement for a silver medal was a position within the best 50% out of a total of 360 participants. The best competitors (Grand First Prize) came from the universities of Göttingen and Saint Petersburg.

Participation in the competition was funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation.

Further information:

Pekka Alestalo, team leader

IMC website (results and problems with solutions from all years)

Defence of dissertation in the field of mathematics, Alex Karrila, M.Sc.(Tech.), 26 July 2019

24. June 2019

Alex Karrila, M.Sc. (Tech.), will defend the dissertation “Conformally invariant scaling limits of random curves and correlations” on Friday 26 July 2019 at 12 noon at the Aalto University School of Science, lecture hall M1, Otakaari 1, Espoo. The dissertation studies mathematically the highly symmetric emergent structures in continuum limits of critical statistical-physics models. The results are formulated in terms of random curves and correlations.

Dr. Vincent Beffara, Université Grenoble Alpes, will act as the opponent. Custos is Professor Kalle Kytölä, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis.
Dissertation press release (in Finnish) is available at:

Snowflakes hold the secret to how tooth enamel is formed

4. June 2019

Physicists and mathematicians have long used the so-called Stefan problem to explain how crystals such as snowflakes take their shape. Now, researchers from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki have adapted the same principle to explain how enamel is distributed over teeth. The newly published work helps to explain why even closely-related species – such as humans and orangutans – have very different looking teeth.

Tooth enamel matrix is soft at first, but quickly hardens into the most mineralized and toughest part of the mammalian body. As enamel cannot be repaired or remodelled, its growth is a critical step in tooth formation. It's the durability of enamel that makes teeth capable of lasting for such a long time and why they are so plentiful in the fossil record.

The researchers propose that differences in enamel thickness are regulated by the nutrient diffusion rate, i.e. the rate that individual regions on a crown receive the required nutrients and substances needed to make the enamel.

Starting with a model that is used to simulate snowflake formation – the Stefan problem – the researchers built a new model that mimics the formation of the enamel matrix.

"Whereas enamel is not obviously as intriguingly shaped as snowflakes, it is interesting that the same physical principles can account for the increase in complexity in both systems," says Teemu Häkkinen from Aalto University.

Enamel has a long history in paleontological and medical research, and the new model can be used to investigate both evolutionary differences between species, and medical defects in enamel formation.

Starting with CT-images of real teeth from which enamel was digitally removed, the enamel matrix was applied to underlying dentin surfaces using a computer simulation. Only when simulating the matrix secretion as a diffusion-limited process were the researchers able to make the subtle enamel features found on a human molar.

In contrast to humans, orangutan molar teeth have complex ridges and grooves that could be simulated by lowering the diffusion rate of enamel-forming nutrients even further. Thus, orangutans, which eat hard foods such as unripe fruits and bark, may have evolved their wrinkly enamel with a relatively simple developmental change.

In addition to human and orangutan teeth, the researchers investigated enamel matrix growth in images of pig molars at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). Synchrotron images reveal growth lines that provide a record of enamel matrix growth, much like tree rings show the growth of the tree. In addition to the final enamel surface, the diffusion-limited simulations reproduced these enamel growth lines.

"There are huge amounts of different data available on enamel, and now we have the tools of physicists to make testable predictions," says Academy Professor Jukka Jernvall from the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki.

The research was a collaboration between Aalto University and the University of Helsinki.

Bibliographical information:

Häkkinen TJ, Sova SS, Corfe IJ, Tjäderhane L, Hannukainen A, Jernvall J (2019) Modeling enamel matrix secretion in mammalian teeth. PLoS Comput Biol 15(5): e1007058. https://

Contact information:

Teemu Häkkinen
Doctoral student
Aalto University

Jukka Jernvall
Tel. +358 40 740 3478

Helsinki EVO-DEVO group

A fairy dance takes over Kuunsilta: student art exhibition opened at the Espoo Cultural Centre

27. May 2019 of Aalto University students have produced an art exhibition for the Espoo Cultural Centre, Kuunsilta (Moon bridge). The multidisciplinary teams present their interpretations of the phenomena of low-dimensional geometry and topology.

The älvdans on the moon bridge was designed by interior architecture student Yi-Chiao Tien, bioinformation technology student Jannica Savander, arts and business student Alisa Kurganova and design student Tomi Hyyppä. They were familiar with the cultural centre’s architecture and wanted to construct their work in the empty space of the staircase.

‘The work was inspired by misty fields at dawn. In Swedish, this natural phenomenon is called älvdans, fairy dance. Fairy dance is a natural, visual work of art in an empty space through which air flows from one floor to another’, says Jannica Savander.

Mathematics is present in the fairy piece through minimal surface geometry. Stretched along its sides, fabric settles in a rest mode in which its surface is evenly curved.

‘There are mathematical formulas and origamis everywhere, and each of them can be analysed and explained. Mathematical lessons such as this course are very inspiring’, says Yi-Chiao Tien.

The garden city of Tapiola and the high-ceilinged location on the top floor of the Cultural Centre that resembles a lighthouse laid the foundation for Crystal garden. It was designed and implemented by design student Iiro Törmä, mathematician Saara Vestola and graphic artist Punit Hiremath.

‘We paid attention to natural light, which varies greatly throughout the day’, says Iiro Törmä.

The flower petals of Crystal garden repeat the same polygon folded into different shapes.

‘The course approaches the phenomena of modern mathematics using visual tools, and you can manage with any level of prior mathematical knowledge.  The course participants' relationship with mathematics varied greatly, and we discussed the dialogue between mathematics and creativity a great deal’, says Törmä.

‘Mathematics is everywhere, and a fearless attitude to it is at the centre of all learning. The visual methods of art provide an excellent point of contact with the essential elements of mathematical research’, states Kirsi Peltonen, teacher in charge of the course.

The works were produced as part of the course “Crystal flowers in halls of mirrors: Mathematics meets art and architecture.”

The exhibition has been implemented in cooperation with EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art.  Admission to the exhibition is free, and it is open during the Cultural Centre’s opening hours from 22 May to 31 August (Kulttuuriaukio 2, 02100 Espoo).

Further information:

Kirsi Peltonen
Senior University Lecturer
Aalto University
tel. +358 50 574 7006

IN TRANSITION - Mathematics and Art student exhibition at the Espoo Cultural Centre

13. May 2019

The exhibition opening of IN TRANSITION Mathematics and Art will take place at Espoo Cultural Centre on 21. May, 17.00. The exhibition showcases student work from the Crystal Flowers in Halls of Mirrors course. The exhibition will be opened by Aalto University Provost Kristiina Mäkelä.

The exhibition will be open for visitors until the end of August 2019.

The final exhibition of the cross-disciplinary Crystal Flowers in Halls of Mirrors course is a concrete starting point for the promotion of interaction between art and science. It places deep phenomena on the level of human interaction. Open-minded and ground-breaking collaboration opens up opportunities for the pursuance of shared objectives. Authentic and real interaction challenges conventional beliefs and creates an exciting example of new possibilities.

Ranging from first-year undergraduates to postgraduate students, the course participants represent different schools of Aalto University. The diverse groups have designed and implemented their own interpretations in the fields of low-dimension geometry and topology under the guidance of a multidisciplinary team of teachers.

Together with EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the work has been curated into a coherent art exhibition taking place at the Espoo Cultural Centre for the duration of summer 2019.

Mathematics and Arts Colloquium: Salvador Dali and the Fourth Dimension - public talk by Thomas Banchoff; 2.5.2019

25. April 2019

Helena Sederholm opens the event Meeting Salvador Dali in the Fourth Dimension.

How did Salvador Dali choose an unfolded four-dimensional cross as the central figure in one of his most famous religious paintings?  This talk will describe a ten-year series of meetings with the artist starting in 1975 and a survey of forty years of developments in computer graphics approaches to phenomena in four and higher dimensions.

Thomas F. Banchoff is a geometer, and an emeritus professor at since July 1, 2014 after 47 years teaching at Brown University. Further information.

Mathematics and Arts Colloquium

Niilo Helander Foundation sponsors the event.

Aalto nabs 3 ERC Advanced Grants

29. March 2019

Aalto university has been awarded €6.3 million from the European Research Council to support pioneering work across a range of high-impact fields. The three projects are:

    •  Designing algorithms to reduce filter bubbles in social media lead by Professor Aristides Gionis from the Department of Computer Science
    • Developing new mathematical methods for currently unsolvable problems led by Professor Kari Astala from the Department of Mathematics
  • ATOP:
    • Creating novel photonic devices by stacking together atomically-thin materials led by Professor Zhipei Sun from the Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering

ERC Advanced Grants are designed to support researchers exploring high-risk and groundbreaking areas of research. Aalto University strives to identify and solve grand societal challenges, a goal that the three projects receiving ERC support aim to achieve.

‘I am very pleased and honoured to be awarded the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant. The expected outcomes will result in significant advances in fundamental physics and breakthrough technologies to enable highly-integrated, wideband and high-efficient photonic systems. I am really looking forward to starting this ambitious project,’ says Professor Sun, about his project on atomically thin photonics devices.

‘By engaging with a range of stakeholders we hope to be able to improve deliberation online,’ says Professor Gionis about his research into polarisation in online media communities. ‘We aim to develop methods that can be applied to any topic, even topics coming from different domains, e.g., politics, current events, or social debates.’

Professor Astala describes his work as 'developing mathematics and tools for analysing different mathematical models, particularly those arising in statistical physics and materials sciences. Diverse phenomena in properties of materials, fluid mechanics, medical scanning and even invisibility cloaking will be susceptible to the methods of analysis developed in this project.'

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