Sebastian Pokutta


  • Diploma in Mathematics University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, 2003
  • Ph.D. in Mathematics University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, 2005
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006

Honors & Awards.

  • David M. McKenney Family Early Career Professorship, 2016
    in the H. Milton School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2015
  • EGRIE Annual Meeting Best paper award, 2014
    for “Convergence of Capital and Insurance Markets: Pricing Aspects of Index-Linked Catastrophic Loss Instruments”, N. Gatzert, S. Pokutta, and N. Vogl
  • Coca Cola Early Career Professorship, 2014
    in the H. Milton School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech
  • Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) Best paper award, 2012
    for “Linear vs. Semidefinite Extended Formulations: Exponential Separation and Strong Lower Bounds”, S. Fiorini, S. Massar, S. Pokutta, H.R. Tiwary, R. de Wolf
  • Energy-Finance Best paper award, 2010
    for “On clearing coupled day-ahead electricity markets”, A. Martin, J. Müller, S. Pokutta
  • DAAD Postdoctoral fellow, 2006-2007
  • GIF Postdoctoral fellowship, 2006

Select Key Roles.

  • Math+ Mathematics of Data Science (MoDS) Steering Committee
    Chair, Fall 2020 - [link]
  • MODAL SynLab
    Head, 2020 - [link]
  • Research Campus MODAL
    Co-Chair, 2020 - [link]
  • Mathematical Algorithmic Intelligence Division @ ZIB
    Division Head, 2020 - [link]
  • Zuse Institute Berlin
    Vice President, 2019 - [link]


Sebastian Pokutta is the Vice President of the Zuse Institute Berlin (ZIB) and a Professor of Mathematics at TU Berlin with a research focus on Artificial Intelligence and Optimization. Having received both his diploma and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, Pokutta was a postdoctoral researcher and visiting lecturer at MIT, worked for IBM ILOG, and Krall Demmel Baumgarten. Prior to joining ZIB and TU Berlin, he was the David M. McKenney Family Associate Professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and an Associate Director of the Machine Learning @ GT Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology as well as a Professor at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Sebastian received the David M. McKenney Family Early Career Professorship in 2016, an NSF CAREER Award in 2015, the Coca-Cola Early Career Professorship in 2014, the outstanding thesis award of the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2006, as well as various Best Paper awards.

Pokutta’s research is situated at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Optimization. A particular focus is on combining Machine Learning with Discrete Optimization techniques as well as the Theory of Extended Formulations, exploring the limits of computation in alternative models of complexity. Pokutta has also worked on applications of Optimization and Machine Learning, leveraging data in the context of pressing industrial and financial challenges. These areas include Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Cyber-Physical Systems (incl. Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things), and Finance. Examples of Pokutta’s applied work include stowage optimization problems for inland vessels, oil production problems, clearing of electricity markets, order fulfillment problems, warehouse location problems, simulation of autonomous vehicle fleets, portfolio optimization problems, optimal liquidity management strategies, and predictive pregnancy diagnostics.