This year’s Südwestmetall Prize for Ulm University, with a value of 5,000 euros, goes to Dr Sven Puchinger. The 28-year-old electrical engineer, who completed his doctorate at the Ulm University Institute of Communications Engineering, was honoured in Stuttgart for his dissertation on algebraic channel coding. His research involves the use of special mathematical methods to prevent transmission errors and encrypt data flows, thus making the storage and transmission of data both safer and more reliable.
“Data is an important component of digitalisation and Industry 4.0. Data protection and data authenticity are high priorities. Therefore, the structure and decoding of data, as analysed by this year’s prizewinner from Ulm, are of great importance”, explains Götz Maier, managing director of Südwestmetall in Ulm. In his view, this research provides an important foundation for coding of the future.
Südwestmetall prizewinner Dr Sven Puchinger is a scientific prodigy. Born in Karlsruhe, he grew up in Ulm and attended university here as well. Following the outstanding completion of his bachelor’s degree – his thesis on channel coding for mobile communications was awarded the ARGUS Prize -, the highly gifted student had the opportunity to pursue his doctorate straightaway. In order to do so, however, he was required to take additional master’s degree exams. Neither this requirement, nor his teaching responsibilities, deterred him from starting a further degree programme while working on his PhD, leading to the successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He had developed an interest in this subject during a two-semester stay abroad in Toronto, Canada.
Popular tutor and sought-after cooperation partner
At his young age, Puchinger is already a sought-after expert and reviewer. His advisor of many years, institute head Professor Martin Bossert, is impressed by more than just his academic work. According to Bossert, Puchinger is not only an academic talent with perceptive faculties and a sound base of knowledge, but he also has an exceptionally well-developed social side and instructional talent. He is very popular as a student tutor, but is also a sought-after partner for scientific cooperation. Puchinger has already collected a fair amount of experience in the world of industry as well. As a student trainee, he has worked in research and development at EADS, Cassidian and Daimler.
Data security in the age of the quantum computer
Sven Puchinger’s great mathematical talent is an excellent prerequisite for his scientific work. His research focuses on highly complicated mathematical methods of algebraic channel coding. What at first glance appears dry and brittle for the layperson actually has great topical relevance. Such telecommunication methods are in fact necessary to make data traffic reliable and secure. One field of application that is currently very important is cryptology, which, among other things, deals with coding data flows. “Nearly all currently used crypto-systems are based on number theory. Many of these methods, however, are only secure as long as there are no high-performance quantum computers”, explains Puchinger. In order to be able to fend off crypto attacks in the future as well, alternative methods of encryption will be necessary.
One promising method for such a system is based on channel coding. In order to be able to better implement such methods, Sven Puchinger describes and analyses a new code class in his dissertation. “In addition, he has also developed an improved power decoding method for widely used code classes which is considered to be the best in the world due to its performance capacity”, says principal assessor Bossert. And in terms of speed, Puchinger also has something to contribute with his dissertation: a decoding method for so-called rank-metric codes, which is significantly faster at correcting transmission errors in data networks. Dr Sven Puchinger is remaining loyal to these topics of research in his new position as well. Since May of last year, he has been conducting research at the Institute of Communications Engineering at the Technical University of Munich.
Südwestmetall awards prizes to young scientists in Baden-Württemberg
With this award, Südwestmetall honours outstanding achievements by young scientists at the nine state universities in Baden-Württemberg. One Südwestmetall Prize, with a value of 5,000 euros, is awarded at each of the universities. The prizes are awarded annually based on recommendations from the respective universities for scientific papers with particular relevance to the industrial world or its socio-political framework conditions.
Text and media contact: Andrea Weber-Tuckermann