Forecasting in Complex Networks: DFG Supports Till Becker’s Research with 260,000 Euros

Logistics expert and specialist for business information systems, Professor Till Becker, is able to tell you in advance how material flows, and subsequently production processes, will develop within an enterprise. He does this by means of stochastics, the mathematically underpinned “art of conjecture”. Up to now only conceptualized in outline, over the next three years he intends to transform the whole cannon of basic research. The Deutsche Foschungsgesellschaft (DFG) [German Research Foundation] is convinced of the project’s value and providing funding it in an amount of 260,000 euros.

A panel of experts approved the 20-page proposal submitted by the Bremen logistics researcher. Not surprisingly, the 35-year-old was delighted at the news as he will now be able to take on an additional research associate. Professor Till Becker leads a Cooperative Junior Research Group at the Bremen Institute of Production and Logistics (BIBA) in the University’s Faculty of Production Engineering. Besides Becker, the group comprises another three members. They are researching topology and dynamics in production systems: in other words, the structure of manufacturing processes. This encompasses the channels materials pass through at different machines before the final product emerges. In manufacturing enterprises, these channels constitute complex networks, rather like a road map, and it is often difficult to keep track of things.

Discerning patterns in networks

This is where Becker comes in with his mathematical methods. “We identify the matrix in such networks”, says the researcher, pointing to a graphic that reveals the structures and patterns in a materials flow network. “This then enables us to calculate probabilities.” First of all comes the basic research that when applied can deliver very tangible results. “Enterprises are then able to change their production processes accordingly and at the right time, for instance by installing new equipment and facilities”, he explains. The full title of the project reads “Stochastic complex networks as forecasting and explanatory models for the dynamic development of systems in production logistics.”

Successful Cooperative Junior Research Group

The methods are nothing new, says the researcher in some modesty. They are already applied in the social sciences. “Social networks can also be described mathematically as matrices that enable predictions about how a network will develop and in which direction it will expand.” Now the Cooperative Junior Research Group financed with funds from the Excellence Initiative will itself be able to expand its research with the additional DFG funding. In the meantime, the group that was founded two years ago has an international aspect. “Ten months ago we were joined by a visiting scholar from Nepal who does research in the area of logistics”, says Till Becker.

For further information, please contact:

University of Bremen
Faculty of Production Engineering
Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics (BIBA)
Prof.Dr. Till Becker
Phone: +49 421 218-50176
email: tbeprotect me ?!biba.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Mann lächelt in Kamera
Der Bremer Logistiker Professor Till Becker