Campus and Community

Técnico alumnus wins the Amílcar Sernadas Logic Prize

The Técnico alumnus Sérgio Marcelino won, ex aequo, the first edition of the prize.

Sérgio Marcelino, Técnico alumnus and researcher at Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT), won (ex aequo) the first edition of the Amílcar Sernadas Logic Prize for his paper entitled “An unexpected Boolean connective”. “I am very honoured to receive this prize. Everyone likes to be recognized for their work”, says the alumnus. Sérgio Marcelino welcomes the participation of Portugal in the “One logic prize in every country” initiative with “joy”, which was made possible through the Amílcar Sernadas Logic Prize.

“This paper, in particular, is very dear to me because I was able to illustrate with a simple but exotic example, the advantages of certain methodological options that have guided my recent research, and that have been quite fruitful”, says the Técnico alumnus.

The IT researcher has been working with generalized concepts of semantics and logic that “have helped to study in a more detailed way the balance between expressiveness of logic and the complexity of decision-making on the solution of problems associated with it”, explains the alumnus. The ultimate goal is to understand and control, if possible, the mechanisms behind the computational complexity of formal / symbolic reasoning tasks.

The award-winning paper works as a sort of brief summary of the advantages of using generalized concepts of semantics and logic. “These advantages are illustrated on the basis of a logical connective with surprising properties, which, due to their exotic characteristics, we decided to call platypus”, explains Sérgio Marcelino. Apart from “addressing the strange properties of platypus”, the paper also describes the fundamental advantages of the presented approach: “of non-determinism in problems of compositionality and the use of multiple-conclusion calculations in proof theory”, shares the author.

The admiration for professor Amílcar Sernadas and the passion for Logic

“Professor Amílcar Sernadas was one of those responsible for the design of the mathematics degree programme (LMAC), in particular the Logic and Computation branch, which I followed”, recalls Sérgio Marcelino. The Técnico professor was also at the origin of the Security and Quantum Information Group (SQIG), to which the alumnus belongs at professor Sernadas’ invitation.

Although he was not a student of this iconic professor, Sérgio Marcelino recalls “I had the privilege of witnessing his contagious energy and seeing the relevance and depth of his vision of the world. For all of this, I am very sorry that he is not present as we get results that would certainly be of interest to him”, highlights the researcher.

Since he started studying mathematics, Sérgio Marcelino has always been fascinated by logic “largely due to Gödel’s theorems and their impact on the foundations of mathematics”, he says. “Over time, I realised how easy it is to define logic with terrible computational properties and I became interested in the mechanisms that originate these behaviours and the ways to control them”, he recalls.

The Amílcar Sernadas Logic Prize

The prize is included in the “One logic prize in every country” initiative. It celebrates Amílcar Sernadas highly significant and original scientific contributions, as well as his outstanding academic career. The Amílcar Sernadas Logic Prize was created by Instituto Superior Técnico with the support of the Department of Mathematics (DM-IST) and IT.

Sérgio Marcelino won the prize, ex aequo, with Paulo Guilherme Santos and Reinhard Kahle, both from FCT NOVA – The NOVA School of Science and Technology. The winners receive €1,000 euros to support the presentation of the winning papers at the UNILOG conference.