Saarbrücker-based Computer Scientist Christian Theobalt appointed Scientific Member of Max Planck Society

Christian Theobalt, head of the Graphics, Vision & Video research group at the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science in Saarbrücken, has been appointed Scientific Member by the Max Planck Society as of March 1, 2021. As scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science, he will lead a new department conducting research on fundamental issues in computer science at the frontier of computer graphics, image recognition and artificial intelligence.

Professor Theobaltbecame known for his pioneering work reconstructing models of the real world, in particular models of people and their movements, from camera data. He developed methods that combine classical methods of computer graphics and image recognition with concepts of machine learning. This made it possible, for example, to develop the first methods to measure the 3D motion of people in real time, with only one camera, and without special suits.

The work of Christian Theobalt lays important methodological foundations for the way we will interact with computers and intelligent systems in the future, e.g. by recognizing hand movements and gestures by the computer. They also open up far-reaching new possibilities for future applications in virtual and augmented reality, as well as telepresence. His work also forms the basis of new methods that enable intelligent systems to sense their environment with high precision in order to act and interact safely within it.

Christian Theobalt is a native of Saarland, Germany. He holds a Diploma in Computer Science from Saarland University, a Master in Artificial Intellience from the University of Edinburgh, and received his Dr.-Ing. degree from Saarland University and the MPI for Computer Science (MPI-INF) in 2005. From 2007 to 2009, he was Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford University. Since September 2009, he has headed the Graphics, Vision & Video research group at MPI-INF. Also in 2009, Theobalt became Professor of Computer Science at Saarland University. He has received a variety of awards for his research, including two ERC Grants, the Karl Heinz Beckurts Award 2017, and the EUROGRAPHICS Outstanding Technical Contributions Award 2020.

The Max Planck Society, MPG, is one of the leading research organizations in Germany. It operates 86 institutes engaged in basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences and humanities. It is one of the top scientific organizations in the world and has produced 20 Nobel Prize winners since it was founded in 1948. At the Saarbrücken computer science site, the Max Planck Society operates two institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science and the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems. The two institutes, with their nearly 250 researchers, are an important location factor and an important component of the research strength of the Saarland Informatics Campus. The appointment of Christian Theobalt fundamentally strengthens the field of visual computing, a long-standing and internationally recognized central research focus of the Saarland Informatics Campus.


Background: Computer Science in Saarbrücken

The Max Planck Institute for Informatics has been based in Saarbrücken since its foundation in 1990. At that time, it was the first Max Planck Institute dedicated exclusively to computer science to be located in Saarbrücken, which was already one of the most important locations for university computer science research in Germany. With the appointment of Christian Theobalt, the MPI-INF has 6 departments and an Independent Research Group. The development of algorithms for the analysis and description of computer science is at the center of the research, on an equal footing with the training of young scientists.