Bio in 100 words

Aske Plaat is professor of Data Science at Leiden University, and Scientific Director of the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science (LIACS).  He has a background in artificial intelligence and distributed systems. His research interests are in reinforcement learning and self-learning systems. He has won the Novag Award for the best computer chess publication. He is co-author of an ERC Advanced grant on combinatorial algorithms for high energy physics. Previously he has worked at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Tilburg University, NHTV Breda, the University of Alberta, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Longer Bio

Aske Plaat (1966) is professor of Data Science, and Scientific Director of the Department of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science (LIACS) of  Leiden University, the Netherlands.  Plaat has a background in artificial intelligence and distributed systems. His research interests are in machine learning: reinforcement learning, scalable combinatorial reasoning algorithms, games and self-learning systems.

Plaat studied at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada and the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. There he received his PhD in artificial intelligence in 1996 for a thesis on search algorithms. This work answered an open question in the relationship between two search algorithms and formed the basis for the creation of the MTD(f) algorithm. His supervisors were Jonathan Schaeffer (University of Alberta, Edmonton) and Arie de Bruin (Erasmus University, Rotterdam). Three years earlier he received a Master’s degree in Information Management from Erasmus University Rotterdam. His Master’s thesis was on compiler support for remote procedure calls. His supervisor was Jan van den Berg.

Previously, he has worked as professor of Information and Complex Decision Making at the Department of Communication and Information Sciences at Tilburg University and as associate professor (“lector”) of data-driven entertainment at the Academy for Digital Entertainment of NHTV Breda. Aske Plaat received, with his co-authors, the ICGA Novag award for the best computer chess publication of 1994/1995. After his graduation he did post-doctoral research on the Cilk system with Charles Leiserson at the supercomputing technologies group at the MIT Lab for Computer Science.  The group’s chess program Cilkchess, using MTD(f), won the 1996 Dutch Open Computer Chess Championship in Leiden. Cilk technology is now part of Intel’s parallel compiler suite. In 1997 he was awarded the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship, and an NWO/SION grant to work with Henri Bal at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on distributed algorithms for world-wide applications (or scalable computing, as it is now called).

With PI Jos Vermaseren (Nikhef) he is co-author of the HEPGAME project that was awarded a five year Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (proposal) on 12/12/2012. HEPGAME uses machine learning algorithms to solve very complex high energy physics problems. In 2017 the Amsterdam-Leiden-Delft Quantum Software consortium received a 10 year NWO Gravitation grant, of which he leads the Quantum Machine Learning part.

Plaat has (co-)chaired and (co-)edited conferences on combinatorial algorithms, information management and governance. He is a member of the board of the national SIKS research school for Artificial Intelligence and of IPN Informatics Platform Netherlands. He was a member of the PRACE Access Committee. He has supervised over 50 students.

In Leiden, he is a co-founder of CFER, the Computing Facility of Excellent Research, the LCDS Leiden Center of Data Science, the CCLS Center for Computational Life Science, and the SAILS program for Social science, Artificial Intelligence, and Life Science.

Outside academia, he has worked for consultancies, the Netherlands Ministries of Finance and Justice, and the aviation, games and media industry. In his spare time he likes cycling, sailing, and Italian opera.

Hi-rez Photo:  AskePlaat1 lustrum


Google Scholar citations on Google scholar

LinkedIn Resume on LinkedIn

Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

  • 1996            PhD, Artificial Intelligence
  • 1993            MSc, Economics/Management of Information Systems


  • 2016-           Scientific Director, Leiden University, department of Computer Science
  • 2014-           Professor, Leiden University, department of Computer Science
  • 2009-2014  Professor, Tilburg University, department of Communication and Information Sciences
  • 2000-2013  Change Manager, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, The Hague
  • 1997-1999  Postdoctoral Researcher, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Computer Science, Parallel and Distributed Systems
  • 1996-1997  Postdoctoral Fellow, Lab for Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., Supercomputing Technologies


  • Machine Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Combinatorial Search, Games

Grants, Memberships

  • LIACS participates in the 2017 NWO Gravitation 10 year grant to the Quantum Software Consortium
  • co-author of ERC Advanced grant HEPGAME, 2012, 5 year
  • eScience Integrator at the Netherlands eScience Center 2015-2018
  • Board of SIKS research school
  • (co-)Chair of 8 conferences
  • co-founder of the Computing Facility for Excellent Research
  • co-founder of the Leiden Center of Data Science
  • co-founder of the Center for Computational Life Science
  • founder of the SAILS program for Social science, Artificial Intelligence, and Life Science


My office is in Snellius, first floor, room 158. My door is always open, even when it is closed.

Leiden University
Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science LIACS
Niels Bohrweg 1
2333 CA Leiden
The Netherlands

Please contact Marloes van der Nat by email for an appointment (or at 071-527 7045).


My cell phone is +31-6-4646.7007, I mostly use it for text messages, there is no voice mail.
Please send a message with your question so that I can get back. TL;DR. If your message is short, I typically respond. If I have not responded the same evening, try a short version of your message.

If you are looking for a PhD positions, please go to the LIACS web pages.

Our secretaries can be reached at:
071-527 7045


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