Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica
Type National research institute
Established 1946
President J. C. M. Baeten
Administrative staff
Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website www.cwi.nl

The Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (abbr. CWI; English: National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science) is a research center in the field of mathematics and theoretical computer science. It is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and is located at the Amsterdam Science Park. This institute is of much fame as the creation ground of the Python Programming Language. It was a founding member of the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM).

Early history

The institute was founded in 1946 by Johannes van der Corput, David van Dantzig, Jurjen Koksma, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Marcel Minnaert and Jan Arnoldus Schouten. It was originally called Mathematical Centre (in Dutch: Mathematisch Centrum). One early mission was to develop mathematical prediction models to assist large Dutch engineering projects, such as the Delta Works. During this early period, the Mathematics Institute also helped with designing the wings of the Fokker F27 Friendship airplane, voted in 2006 as the most beautiful Dutch design of the 20th century.

The computer science component developed soon after. Adriaan van Wijngaarden, considered the founder of computer science (or informatica) in the Netherlands, was the director of the institute for almost 20 years. Edsger Dijkstra did most of his early influential work on algorithms and formal methods at CWI. The first Dutch computers, the Electrologica X1 and Electrologica X8, were both designed at the centre, and Electrologica was created as a spinoff to manufacture the machines.

In 1983, the name of the institute was changed to CWI to reflect a governmental push for emphasizing computer science research in the Netherlands.[1]

Recent research

The institute is known for its work in fields such as operations research, software engineering, information processing, and mathematical applications in life sciences and logistics. More recent examples of research results from CWI include the development of scheduling algorithms for the Dutch railway system (the Nederlandse Spoorwegen, one of the busiest rail networks in the world) and the development of the Python programming language by Guido van Rossum. Python has played an important role in the development of the Google search platform from the beginning, and it continues to do so as the system grows and evolves.[2] Many information retrieval techniques used by packages such as SPSS were initially developed by Data Distilleries, a CWI spinoff.[3][4]

Work at the institute was recognized by national or international research awards, such as the Lanchester Prize (awarded yearly by INFORMS), the Gödel Prize (awarded by ACM SIGACT) or the Spinoza Prize. Most of its senior researchers hold part-time professorships at other Dutch universities, with the institute producing over 170 full professors during the course of its history. Several CWI researchers have been recognized as members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academia Europaea, or as knights in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

European Internet

CWI was an early user of the Internet in Europe. The first connection in Europe to the NSFnet network, which later developed into the Internet, was established at CWI on 17 November 1988 by Piet Beertema, and cwi.nl was the first national domain name ever issued.[5]

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (one of the largest Internet Exchanges in the world, in terms of both members and throughput traffic) is located at the neighbouring SARA (an early CWI spin-off) and NIKHEF institutes. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) office for the Benelux countries is located at CWI.[6]

Spin-off Companies

CWI has a demonstrated a continuing effort to put the work of its researcher at the disposal of society, mainly by collaborating with commercial companies and creating spin-off businesses. In 2000 CWI established "CWI Incubator BV", a dedicated company with the aim to generate high tech spin-off companies.[7] Some of the CWI spinoffs include:[8]

Software and languages

Notable people


  1. Bennie Mols: ERCOM: The Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica turns 60. In: Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, No. 56 (September 2007), p. 43 (online)
  2. "Quotes about Python". Python.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
  3. "SPSS and Data Destileries". Python.org. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  4. Sumath, S; Sivanandam, S.N. (2006). Introduction to Data Mining and its Applications. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 743. ISBN 978-3-540-34350-9. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  5. (Dutch) De geschiedenis van SIDN (History of SIDN), Official website of SIDN
  6. "The World Wide Web Consortium - Benelux Office". W3C. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
  7. "Spin-off companies' details". CWI Amsterdam. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
  8. "Spin-off companies". CWI Amsterdam. Retrieved 2014-07-08.

External links

Coordinates: 52°21′23″N 4°57′07″E / 52.35639°N 4.95194°E / 52.35639; 4.95194

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