Paul Vitányi

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Paul Michael Béla Vitányi
Paul M. B. Vitányi 2005
Born (1944-07-21) 21 July 1944 (age 79)
Alma materDelft University of Technology
Free University of Amsterdam
Known forSimplicity theory
Kolmogorov complexity
Normalized Compression Distance
Normalized Google Distance
Information Distance
Incompressibility Method
Shared register
Kolmogorov structure function
Reversible computing
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science, Mathematics
InstitutionsCWI, University of Amsterdam, University of Copenhagen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Monash University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, NICTA at University of New South Wales, Boston University, University of Waterloo
Doctoral advisorJaco de Bakker
Arto Salomaa
Doctoral studentsRonald Cramer[1]
John Tromp
Barbara Terhal
Ronald de Wolf

Paul Michael Béla Vitányi (born 21 July 1944) is a Dutch computer scientist, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam and researcher at the Dutch Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica.


Vitányi was born in Budapest to a Dutch mother and a Hungarian father. He received his degree of mathematical engineer from Delft University of Technology in 1971 and his Ph.D. from the Free University of Amsterdam in 1978.[1]


Vitányi was appointed professor of computer science at the University of Amsterdam, and researcher at the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in the Netherlands (CWI) where he is currently a CWI Fellow. He was guest professor at the University of Copenhagen in 1978; research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985/1986; Gaikoku-Jin Kenkyuin (councilor professor) at INCOCSAT at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1998; visiting professor at Boston University in 2004, at Monash University in 1996 and at the National ICT of Australia NICTA at University of New South Wales in 2004/2005; visiting professor at and adjunct professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo from 2005.

Vitányi has served on the editorial boards of Distributed Computing (1987–2003), Information Processing Letters; the Theory of Computing Systems; the Parallel Processing Letters; the International journal of Foundations of Computer Science; the Entropy; the Information; the SN Computer Science; the Journal of Computer and Systems Sciences (guest editor), and elsewhere.

Awards & honours[edit]


Vitányi has worked on cellular automata, computational complexity, distributed and parallel computing, machine learning and prediction, physics of computation, Kolmogorov complexity, information theory and quantum computing, publishing over 200 research papers and some books.[5][6][7] As of 2020 his work on normalized compression distance was used in 15 US patents and on normalized Google distance in 10 US patents.

Together with Ming Li he pioneered theory and applications of Kolmogorov complexity.[8] They co-authored the textbook An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications,[9] parts of which have been translated into Chinese, Russian and Japanese. The textbook received the William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Award[10] of the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) (2020), and the Chinese translation[11] received the National Outstanding Scientific and Technological Book Award of the People's Republic of China (1999).


  1. ^ a b Paul Michael Béla Vitányi at the Mathematics Genealogy Project.
  2. ^ "Paul Vitányi ontvangt koninklijke onderscheiding". Computable. VNU Media. 10 September 2007. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Analysing Human Aspects of Safety-Critical Software".
  4. ^ Academia Europaea
  5. ^ Computer science papers DBLP
  6. ^ "Paul Vitanyi".
  7. ^ "MathSciNet Mathematical Reviews".
  8. ^ Li, Ming; Vitanyi, Paul M. B. (May 3, 2007). "Applications of algorithmic information theory". Scholarpedia. 2 (5): 2658. Bibcode:2007SchpJ...2.2658L. doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.2658.
  9. ^ M. Li and P. M. B.Vitányi, An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and its Applications, Springer, New York, 1993 (1st Ed.), 1997 (2nd ed.), 2008 (3rd ed.), 2019 (4th ed.)
  10. ^ Schmieder, Eric (February 26, 2020). "TAA announces 2020 Textbook Award winners - Textbook & Academic Authors Association Blog".
  11. ^ "Chinese translation of An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and its Applications".

External links[edit]