Virtual LIDS Seminar Series – Max Welling (University of Amsterdam)

Monday, November 22


Title:Deep Learning for the Physical Sciences
Speaker:Max Welling (University of Amsterdam)
Date: Monday, November 22, 2021
Time: 11:00 am EDT
Host: Prof. Suvrit Sra
Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 932 6697 0951

Abstract: A number of fields, most prominently speech, vision, and NLP have been disrupted by deep learning technology. A natural question is: “which application areas will follow next?”. My prediction is that the physical sciences will experience an unprecedented acceleration by combining the tools of simulation on HPC clusters with the tools of deep learning to improve and accelerate this process. Together, they form a virtuous cycle where simulations create data that feeds into deep learning models which in turn improves the simulations. In a way, this is like building a self-learning computational microscope for the physical sciences. In this talk, I will illustrate this using two recent pieces of work from my lab: molecular simulation and PDE solving. In molecular simulation, we try to predict molecular properties or digitally synthesize molecules with prescribed properties. We have built a number of equivariant graph neural networks to achieve this. Partial differential equations (PDEs) are the most used mathematical model in natural sciences to describe physical processes. Intriguingly, we find that PDE solvers can be learned from data using graph neural networks as well, which has the added benefit that we can learn a solver that can generalize across PDEs and different boundary conditions. Moreover, it may open the door to ab initio learning of PDEs directly from data.

Biography: Prof. Dr. Max Welling is a full professor and research chair in machine learning at the University of Amsterdam where he directs the research group AMLAB. He is also a Distinguished Scientist at MSR and director of the new MSR office in Amsterdam. He is a fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and the European Lab for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) where he serves on the founding board. His previous appointments include VP at Qualcomm Technologies, professor at UC Irvine, a postdoc at the University of Toronto, and UCL under supervision of prof. Geoffrey Hinton, and postdoc at Caltech under supervision of prof. Pietro Perona. He finished his Ph.D. in theoretical high energy physics under the supervision of Nobel laureate prof. Gerard ‘t Hooft.

Max Welling has served as associate editor in chief of IEEE TPAMI from 2011-2015, he serves on the advisory board of the Neurips foundation since 2015 and has been program chair and general chair of Neurips in 2013 and 2014 respectively. He was also program chair of AISTATS in 2009 and ECCV in 2016 and general chair and co-founder of MIDL 2018. Max Welling is a recipient of the ECCV Koenderink Prize in 2010 and the ICML Test of Time award in 2021. He directs the Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab (AMLAB) and co-directs the Qualcomm-UvA deep learning lab (QUVA) and the Bosch-UvA Deep Learning lab (DELTA).

This talk is part of the LIDS Seminar Series. See the full schedule at:

The 2021-22 LIDS Seminar Series is sponsored by LIDS alumnus, George H. Polychronopoulos, MS ’88, PhD ’92.


  • Date: Monday, November 22
  • Time: 11am
  • Category:
  • Location: Zoom