News and events archive

From the faculty

  • Title image

    Algomanet 2024: Insights from Alexandru Malekshahian

    Another session of the Algomanet course took place in Krakow at the end of May 2024, hosting lectures of prominent academics Pablo Candela and Joel Moreira. The topics covered included higher-order Fourier analysis and ergodic Ramsey theory, engaging all participants in fruitful discussions and networking. We asked Alexandru Malekshaian, one of the participants, to share his insight on the event with us.

    Algomanet, short for the Algorithms and Mathematics Network, is a network based on collaboration among several research groups in the areas of discrete algorithms, discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science. Founded in 2019, the network currently includes groups from Charles University in Prague, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Masaryk University in Brno and the University of Warsaw. In its recent evaluation report on Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University (FI MU), Informatics Europe alliance described the Algomanet network as very successful in community-building. 

    The network offers courses primarily to MSc and PhD students. The topics respond to the latest trends in theoretical computer science and allow students to learn about groundbreaking methods that are not yet found in university textbooks and are often not part of lectures even at PhD level. Its spring 2024 edition took place in Krakow from 20 to 24 May 2024 with a total of 42 students participating, including 5 representatives of FI MU. 

    One notable participant in this year's event was Alexandru Malekshahian, a mathematician currently pursuing his PhD at King's College London. Alexandru’s research lies at the intersection of mathematics, physics, and computer science, making him a valuable contributor to the interdisciplinary discussions. He summarized his experience with the course in an interview, which took place during his visit at the FI MU, where he occasionally collaborates with prof. Dan Král’ and his Laboratory of Discrete Methods and Algorithms.

    Could you explain the focus of your research for us?

    I focus on understanding real-world physical models theoretically, without running lab experiments. Occasionally, I use computer simulations, but my primary focus is on the theory behind phenomena like magnetism and water freezing. We are interested in how slight changes can cause sudden, significant transformations, such as water turning to ice at zero degrees or a magnet losing its strength when heated. We study these models at a molecular level to understand their large-scale behaviors and the mechanisms behind these changes.

    How did you get involved in the Algomanet course?

    Originally, I started collaborating with Dan Kral from FI MU. I first met him two years ago at a summer school in Krakow. We stayed in touch, and I have visited Brno several times to work with him. This year, Dan invited me to Algomanet 2024 because of our ongoing collaboration and shared research interests. 

    What does it take to participate in Algomanet?

    Participation often stems from existing academic relationships. So there is no registration fee or motivation letters or anything. For me, it was simply about accepting Dan's invitation.

    What are the benefits of the course for you and your research?

    Once you get to the point of doing research, it is very hard to find resources to continue learning. Very few researchers actually take the findings they publish in scientific papers and turn them into materials for other people to learn and study from. When you meet someone, who really is an expert in their field and they are taking the time to actually organize and present their recent results in a way that you get up to speed very fast, that is incredibly helpful. It opens up exciting new opportunities for me to take ideas from their work and try to implement them in my research. One of the things that really drives research is finding similarities, bridges and connections between closely related but not exactly the same fields. 

    Which of the two courses did you find particularly useful for your research?

    Both courses were very exciting. I have emailed Pablo later, asking for some extra materials and I'm definitely planning, after I finish my visit with Dan, to read through some more of that and see some exciting connections. Unfortunately, research moves a bit slower than that, so it is not an immediate thing that I'm going to make some breakthrough.

    Do you find the event useful for networking with your peers?

    Networking is a significant aspect of events like Algomanet. At the end of the day it is why I'm here, because I was networking at this other summer school, two years ago, when I met Dan. 

    Can you describe your role and cooperation with Dan Král's lab?

    I think this is my fourth time visiting Brno to work with him. This time, we started a new project related to a question called Sidorenko’s conjecture, which is probably very abstract to the general audience, but that we find exciting to brainstorm about at the whiteboard. At a high level, a key observation from the 1980s is that certain small, simple mathematical structures are always “systematically overrepresented” in larger structures, i.e. they tend to appear more often than what basic calculations would predict. In recent years, this has turned into a hugely active research area, and the main goal is to investigate and categorize which small structures have this property and why. In our case, we are currently looking at a variation on this topic where the objects we care about are called directed graphs. While I contribute my ideas, Dan decides who among his students and postdocs would be most suitable to join. Dan’s busy schedule means he sometimes gives us tasks to work on independently before regrouping. This collaborative, intensive approach is different from my usual routine, where I typically meet my supervisor once a week and work independently the rest of the time. This feels more like a “mathematical bootcamp”. Every time I visit, Dan's team changes as it evolves through time, so it's also exciting for me to collaborate with new people. I'm very happy to come back as many times as I get invited.

    What are your future plans?

    I'm focused on completing my PhD in the next year and looking for post-doctoral positions. It is very useful to form connections with different people and different teams and start working together with them and become more independent of your supervisor or your direct boss and just work either alone or with people from all over the world. 

    Thank you and good luck with your research.

    The next Algomanet session will take place in September 2024 in Warsaw, focusing on Parameterized algorithms for constraint satisfaction problems and the Combinatorics of monadic stability. For more information see

    Author: Marta Vrlová, Office of External Relations and Partnerships at FI MU

    Original bulletin in the Information system.