Dirk Helbing was born on January 19, 1965. He studied physics and mathematics, but was always interested in other fields of science as well. In 2000, he became Professor and Managing Director of the Institute for Transport & Economics at Dresden University of Technology, and in 2007 he was appointed Professor of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, at ETH Zurich. Since 2008, he has been an elected member of the German Academy of Sciences "Leopoldina".
More than 200 publications in different scientific fields, 300 talks and more than 300 reports in the public media reflect Helbingâ€™s wide interest, reaching from traffic science of crowds and disaster management to biologically inspired logistics. He has collaborated on projects with Xerox PARC, Volkswagen, SCA Packaging, Siemens, PTV, and various other companies and foundations.
Helbingâ€™s team developed a traffic assistance system and patented the principle of a self-organized traffic light control, which implements massively parallel, decentralized control concepts for the optimization of traffic flows. The resulting increase of performance and the higher flexibility are based on the latest developments in the understanding of complex systems. Companies and societies are other examples of such complex systems. This is also the reason why he is interested in sociology.
As scientific coordinator of the FuturICT flagship project, Helbing is promoting the collaboration of natural, social, and engineering sciences to address the challenges of the complex and strongly interdependent global techno-socio-economic-environmental systems we have created. He believes that we need to develop a global systems science, a new data science and a systemic risk calculus. Therefore, he is also the founding vice chairman and strategic head of the ETH Risk Center.
Dirk Helbing is excited about everything that stimulates curiosity and intellect, in particular science, culture, and international exchange. Generally, he enjoys challenges and the exploration of unknown territory. He loves nature, in particular mountain hiking, skiing, jogging, and swimming, and he is a fan of a diverse and creative cuisine.