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Computational modelling sheds new light on core cell functions

An advanced computational model developed by computer scientists has revealed long delays in gene regulation.


The fields of genetics and genomics have developed rapidly during the past years, partly due to better computational methods. Now an international research group led by Finnish researchers has developed a new computational model, which has revealed unexpectedly long processing delays in gene expression following a regulatory signal.

Jiaheng Lu: our new Associate Professor


Jiaheng Lu (JL) has been nominated as a tenure-track Associate Professor in computer science for a period of five years starting on August 1, 2015. Recruiting foreign professors is an important tool in the internationalization efforts of the University, so a thorough introductory interview by the head of the Department (JP) was a must.



Petri Myllymäki to be director of HIIT

Petri Myllymäki, professor at the department, has been elected director of HIIT (Helsinki Institute for Information Technology), the joint research institute of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, for the five-year period starting on 1 August, 2015. Petri will be following Professor Sami Kaski of Aalto University in this post. Since the post of director of HIIT is a fulltime job, Petri (PM) will be relieved of his own professorial duties for the same period, and so the head of the department (JP) saw fit to conduct an exit interview with him.


Brain poetry

In the latest research result of the month section, we interview PhD student Jukka Toivanen about his recent work on brain poetry in the Discovery group led by professor Hannu Toivonen. How can humans and machines be creative together?

Kjell Lemström to be new Head of Studies

Since Jaakko Kurhila left the department to head the Open University, we had to find a new university lecturer to act as head of studies in short order. We received a total of 28 applications. Out of these, and after a preliminary qualification round, evaluations, interviews, and a department council hearing, Kjell Lemström (KL) was elected for the post. He started working as the department's Head of Studies on 2 March 2015, so the Head of the department (JP) conducted the following induction interview that very week.

This is by no means the first time Kjell has been employed by the department. He defended his thesis on ‘String Matching Techniques for Music Retrieval’ in 2000, and has held numerous teaching and research positions both before and after that, until he transferred to the Laurea University of Applied Sciences in 2011 (luckily, that was only temporary).

Head of Studies Jaakko Kurhila to head Open University

The Head of Studies at the department, University Lecturer Jaakko Kurhila, has been elected to the post of director of the Open University at the University of Helsinki. It was a tough race: all in all, 39 applicants sought the post, some of them through the Mercuri Urval headhunting process. After a consultant evaluation, interviews, and aptitude assessments, the preparatory committee for the post, the steering committee for the Open University, and the rector of the university came to a unanimous decision to select Jaakko, and the contract is already being drawn up.

Being selected from this prestigious group of applicants, and after such a thorough process, is indisputable proof of the qualifications of Jaakko and the high esteem the academic community has for him. The department extends its warmest congratulations to Jaakko for this career development and is proud of the success of its protégé.

Bridging the Gap Between Research and Standardization

In the fourth research result of the month, we report a joint work between the UH NODES group and the Cambridge NetOS group, lead by Prof. Sasu Tarkoma and Prof. Jon Crowcroft, respectively. Their work recently received the best paper award "Best of CCR" from ACM SIGCOMM.

Discovering Computational Creativity at the University of Helsinki

Computational creativity is a relatively new field among computational sciences, but it already has an active international community of academic researchers. A part of this international community is the Discovery Research Group, run by professor Hannu Toivonen at the University of Helsinki. The group is interested especially in linguistic creativity methods, including methods for the generation of poetry, word associations, humour, and text summarisation. But the group’s efforts have also included musical composition, a human-computer co-creation study and on-going work in pictorial metaphors.

Free-Form Gestures for Mobile Authentication

In the third research result of the month we report on the recent results in gesture-based authentication of users on mobile devices. We interview Assistant Professor Teemu Roos regarding the recent accepted scientific article in the top-tier ACM MobiSys 2014 conference.


Strategy seminar of the Department 2014

The strategy seminar for the Department of Computer Science was arranged at the Kisakallio sports institute in Lohja on 26-27 May 2014. In addition to the strategy work, the programme included meals and coffees, sports, and sauna baths. The high winds blew frisbees and canoes into the bushes. However, the water in Lake Lohjanjärvi was warm, some 20 degrees according to the skin thermometer.

Professor Maxime Crochemore conferred Doctor Honoris Causa

Professor Maxime Crochemore received the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa of University of Helsinki in a conferment ceremony of the Faculty of Philosophy in 23 May 2014.

Malware Insights: Android Infection Rates and Techniques for Identifying Unknown Malware

In the second research result of the month, we report on the recent results in understanding mobile malware. The research was presented and published in the prestigious World Wide Web conference in April 2014.

Theoretical advances for comparative genomics

The Department has started a new “Research result of the month” series written by Professor and Deputy Head Sasu Tarkoma. In the first result of the month report, we interview Dr. Djamal Belazzougui about his recent accepted scientific article in the prestigious STOC conference, the ACM Symposium on the Theory of Computing.

Software Factory Speeds up Ruby on Rails

Software Factory, the experimental R&D laboratory at the University of Helsinki, successfully continues its open source collaboration with the software industry, open source community, and leading universities like Stanford University and MIT.

After Facebook visit, studying looks like work

University research and education laboratory Software Factory has launched a new kind of Open Source collaboration with the software industry and leading universities like Stanford University and MIT.

How do we keep students engaged until graduation, and how could young people be offered something they cannot already learn at work? These are big enough challenges for more than one university.

Not just the local hero

For the Department of Computer Science, the well-being of international staff has a long history. Everyday communication in English is an essential part of this.

“It makes no sense to be just the local hero. If we want to develop further, we’ll need to follow international research standards” emphasises Juergen Muench. The German Professor has been leading the Software Systems Engineering research group at Helsinki University’s Department of Computer Science since 2011.

Linus Torvalds inspiring department students

Linus Torvalds – alumnus of the department, doctor honoris causa of the University of Helsinki, the best known representative of Finnish computer science internationally – visited the Kumpula campus on 23 October. He answered the questions of students and staff during an informal Q&A session attended by some 300 guests. As the floor was open, and Torvalds emphasized that all questions were welcomed, the queries ranged from extreme to extreme

Exactum rooftop greenhouse experiment grows herbs

A greenhouse has been built on the roof of Exactum in a collaboration by the Department of Computer Science and the Fifth Dimension science project. To begin with, sedum grass is growing on the roof and tomatoes, courgettes and chilli in the greenhouse. The greenhouse is 9.4 square metres large.

The motivation for the computer scientists is the estimation that 2% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are emitted by equipment using information technology. This is more than e.g. air traffic produces globally. To the scientists, this is reason enough to look into how to decrease the impact of information technology on global warming.

Study, teach and do what is fun

New postgraduates have recently been selected for the HeCSE graduate school that the department shares with Aalto University. One of the rising young researchers is Antti Laaksonen.


Antti finished his Master’s degree in spring 2011. Those whose job description includes reading lightweight Scrum theses written for the industry may be heartened by the fact that this student wrote his thesis on a most essential area of computer science, i.e. minimization of regular expressions. Antti chose his topic himself, because it was ‘interesting and suitably challenging.’


Congratulations to our good teacher!

The instruction at the Department of Computer Science continues in the limelight; this time in the form of personal recognition, as the student union at the University of Helsinki has awarded the Magister Bonus prize of 2011 to University Lecturer Matti Luukkainen. Matti was interviewed about teaching and studying by Ella Peltonen from TKO-äly immediately after the festivities.



From professor to CTO

As announced by Nokia on Thursday 22 September 2011, Henry Tirri had been appointed Chief Technology Officer at Nokia and Executive Vice President of the Nokia Leadership Team, effective from that date. According to the bulletin, ‘As Chief Technology Officer, Tirri assumes responsibility for the CTO organization, charged with setting Nokia's technology agenda both now and in the future, and driving core innovation to enable business development opportunities.”

A link to the university

The Linkki centre opened at the Helsinki University Department of Computer Science last Friday. The centre offers all kinds of fun activities like games programming, and an online programming course open to all upper-secondary students, starting at the beginning of next year.

Rocking against cancer

This is the story of Riku Katainen, an eternal student who started with computer science and then got stuck in the bioinformatics Master’s programme. By chance, he grappled a challenge larger than himself.This heavy-metal cliché defected from his original research career in Veli Mäkinen’s SuDS group in Kumpula to Lauri Aaltonen’s research group on cancer genetics in Meilahti.His primary duties involve creating visualisation and analysis software for genetic sequence data, with which to discover gene defects in cancer patients.Though the challenge of creating the program initially brought Riku to the limits of his tolerance, all his hard work bore fruit in the end.Let us hear him tell the story.

International Staff Get-together

On Friday 3rd of June the department and the international well-being group invited the international staff to a picnic and a guided tour on Suomenlinna. With several bags filled with delicious food and drinks we started in the late afternoon towards the island, where we found a sunny spot to enjoy the warm weather, the good company and of course the food: from bread over vegetables and fruits to cheese, we had it all. Besides the about 10 international attendees, also our head of department, Esko Ukkonen, found the time to join us.

Also, check out the new English speaking blog at

The story of the little games studio

Ninro gameMika Urtela and Hannu Pajula, graduates of the Department of Computer Science, are realising their piña colada-flavoured dreams in their game-producing company, Soul Aim Studios. This is the beginning of their story. The piña colada part of it has not come true yet, but they're working at it.

Jürgen Münch started as FiDiPro professor

 FiDiPro - the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme - enables distinguished international researchers to work and team up with the 'best of the best' in Finnish academic research. Financed by the Academy of Finland and Tekes, FiDiPro makes it possible to recruit highly merited scientists who are able to commit to long-term cooperation with a Finnish university or research institute.

In March 2011, the Department of Computer Science got its first FiDiPro professor, Jürgen Münch. Let’s interview Jürgen and learn to know him better.

Linus Torvalds made honorary alumnus in Kumpula

The Faculty of Science invited Linus Torvalds to be its honorary alumnus in Kumpula. During its alumni event, the faculty also named one of its lecture halls after Linus Torvalds. On the event held on Thursday 17 March, young researchers were the main speakers, and the 350 guests on the science campus gave them their full attention.

Cold Aisle Containment in our server room

On Thursday 10 March 2011, we installed a so-called Cold Aisle Containment in the server room shared by the Department of Computer Science and HIIT. This is a rustic contraption made from transparent PE plastic, air-conditioning tubes, and a great deal of duct tape. It cuts back on the need to cool the server room very efficiently, as the air-tight plastic stops the intake and exhaust air from the servers from mixing.

HIIT study: Servers run well around zero degrees

Lots of energy can be saved by using outside air directly for cooling in data centers in the north. In a study by researchers of Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT and the University of Helsinki, computers functioned correctly over extended periods of time when run in harsh winter temperatures. Commercial, off-the-shelf computers ran well even when the outside temperature was -22C (-8F).

Master's degree studies in computer science popular among international applicants

Master's degree programmes in computer science at the University of Helsinki were very popular among international applicants in spring 2010. This academic year the department of computer science at the University of Helsinki decided to offer two of its Master's degree sub-programmes, namely the programme on Algorithms and Machine Learning and the programme on Networking and Services, completely in English from the beginning of Autumn term 2010.

Esko Ukkonen’s birthday coffee

The head of the department, Esko Ukkonen, celebrated his 60th birthday. The celebration was held in Exactum at the end of January. The party was attended by employees of the Department of Computer Science and invited guests. The programme included both congratulatory speeches and songs, with a quartet from Wiipurilaisen Osakunnan Laulajat (the Viipuri students’ association singers) singing a song for a former active member. Esko was inspector in Kymenlaakson Osakunta (the Kymenlaakso students’ association) for over ten years.

International Master’s programmes a welcome challenge

The Department of Computer Science can face a new era next autumn, as two out of three specialisation programmes at the Master’s level are planning to adopt English as their teaching language. In future, the courses of Algorithms and machine learning as well as Distributed systems are considered to be given in English, while Software systems continues in Finnish.

Official opening of Software Factory on March 4th, 2010 at 13-17

The Software Factory is a strategic investment of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki into a new infrastructure supporting software engineering research, education and entrepreneurship.

From competition to collaboration


Katherine Icay, Honours Bachelor of actuarial science at the University of Toronto, decided to make a career turn after a few years in an insurance company. Although fascinated by the theoretical foundations of her study field, she ultimately found the business environment unsuitable for her character.

Department receives university welfare award

The University of Helsinki has granted the Department of Computer Science the university’s safety and welfare award 2009. According to the award diploma, the department staff has collaborated to improve the quality, safety, and welfare of its working environment with determination and good results.

The 5,000-euro award has been granted on the proposition of the safety and welfare commission.

Top research

The research at the department combines theory with interaction with the application fields in a well-balanced whole. Both the department and Basic Research Unit in the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology were awarded the highest grade in the research review carried out in 2005. Algodan (Algorithmic Data Analysis) is a national Finnish Academy centre of excellence 2008-2013.

Innovative teaching

The Finnish Higher Education Council re-elected the department as a national centre of excellence in higher education, this time for the years 2010-2012. The status of centre of excellence is a significant achievement. It was only conferred on 10 units in Finland this time, and the department was one of two units that were selected for their second period.

The Department of Computer Science opens it's doors in the virtual world


Starting this Friday, you can visit the Department of Computer Science virtually. An adapted facsimile of the Exactum building and the Kumpula Science Library based on their ground plans has been made for the Second Life virtual world. In Second Life, anyone can visit the premises of the Department of Computer Science.

Biomine received funding from Tekes

The Biomine project has been granted EUR 110.000 by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The project, headed by Prof. Hannu Toivonen, is among the very first ones to receive funding for preparation of commercialization, from a new instrument just launched by Tekes.