For Research. For Berlin.

Einstein Questionnaire

Martin Skutella

Martin Skutella's research interests lie primarily in the field of combinatorial optimization and have multiple applications. For example, they serve to design efficient escape routes at major events.
Skutella studied mathematics and physics at RWTH Aachen University. His dissertation at the TU Berlin has been awarded numerous prizes. Various stays abroad led him, amongst others, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.
Since 2007 Skutella teaches at the Institute of Mathematics at the TU Berlin.


Please close your eyes for a moment and think about the work on your current research project. What's the first thing you see?
Rivers, paths, trees, forests - in the endless vastness of Combinational Optimisation.

Can you please spontaneously name three things that you associate with the name of Albert Einstein?
The equivalence of mass and energy, that outstretched tongue and, of course, his violin.

What is the first thing you do in the morning when you get to work, and why?
I water the plants in my office – after all, it's only thanks to them that my office is so cosy and they will be thirsty.

Imagine you had one wish free, the fulfilment of which would result in the successful outcome of your research project. What would it be?
To have more time for the research.

What in your opinion are mankind's three greatest inventions?
My top three would be mathematics, music and the failsafe bicycle tyre - in reverse order.

What is your personal favourite expression in the Berlin vernacular, and what does it mean?
The only one that comes to mind is: “Ick sitze da un esse Klops, uff eemal klopp's, ...” 
This means “I'm sitting there eating my meatballs, when all at once there's a knock at the door, ...“ – even somebody from Southern Baden can understand that.

Which district in Berlin do you feel at ease in, and why?
In Friedenau – I live there with my wife and our four children.

What characteristics in your opinion distinguish researchers from other people?
None – every researcher is a human being and vice versa.

Who would you like to swap a working day with, and what would you then like to do?
I would really like to be the Berlin Transport Senator for a day so I could liberate this beautiful city from all the private cars driving around and parked here – there’s far too many of them.