Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science

The Department of Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science (INKO) comprises two teaching units that study computer systems from various perspectives and with various methods. Computer science focuses on technology, while the cognitive sciences concentrate on humans. This dual view of technology and humans is highly relevant in a world like ours, where computers are ubiquitous and merge with the environment nearly imperceptibly. Rather than merely function, modern technical systems need to be accepted into society.

Research highlights

The team of Professor Maic Masuch’s (Chair of Media Informatics) NRW flagship project ‘VR-RLX – Virtual-Reality System for the Reduction of Children’s Anxiety during MRI Scans’ has developed a system that reduces stress and anxiety in children undergoing MRI scans. It has been funded by EFRE, and the publication of the project work has been honoured with the CHI Play Mention Award.

Professor Norbert Fuhr (Chair of Information Systems), Professor Nicole Krämer (Chair of Social Psychology) and Professor Torsten Zesch (Chair of Language Technology) participate in the recently approved DFG research training group GRK 2535/1 ‘Knowledge- and Data-driven Personalization of Medicine at the Point of Care’. It studies artificial intelligence and clinical decision support systems using malignant melanoma as an example. The application was submitted in partnership with the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

The Faculty has actively advanced the topic of research data management. In addition to various doctoral training programmes within the research training groups ‘User Centred Social Media’, the Department was granted various projects involving Professor Stefan Stieglitz (Chair of Professional Communication in Electronic Media). In the UNEKE project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, a criteria-driven decision-making model for the structure of research data infrastructures was developed in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University. Further, the DFG currently funds the project ‘sciebo Research Data Services (II)’, which is carried out in collaboration with the University of Münster.

The Department was also awarded a large number of collaborative projects by the EU and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In late 2019, for example, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research granted it the KI-LiveS project. In it, the Chair of Embedded Systems of Computer Science and the Chair of Distributed Systems, both from the Department of Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science, work on issues in artificial intelligence (AI) with the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, and TU Dortmund. The IMPACT project, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, has been underway since 2019. Headed by Professor Nicole Krämer, the project is an interdisciplinary collaboration of psychology, computer science, ethics and law. It studies the impact of artificial-intelligence systems, such as voice services, on interpersonal communication and relationships.

Members of INKO also participate in major industrial research projects. They are providing scientific support in the digital transformation of the Evonik corporation under a recently concluded strategic agreement, for example. Four projects by Professor Nicole Krämer, Professor Daniel Bodemer (Chair of Research Methods in Psychology – Media-Based Knowledge Construction), Ulrich Hoppe (Chair of Collaborative Learning in Intelligent Distributed Environments) and Torben Weis (Chair of Distributed Systems)  are funded in this context.


Professor Norbert Fuhr has been appointed a member of the Academy of the Special Interest Group Information Retrieval SIGIR, which was newly founded in June 2020. The SIGIR Academy honours researchers who have made significant cumulative contributions to the development of Information Retrieval as a field of research.

Partnerships and international affairs

The Department has been awarded the four-year project RISE_SMA ‘Social Media Analytics for Society and Crisis Communication’ within the scope of the EU programme ‘Horizon 2020’. The project is headed by Professor Stefan Stieglitz. Its objective is to expand research methods for social-media contents and examine current phenomena, such as social bots and the impact of disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic, by collecting and evaluating data. It is a collaborative endeavour involving computer science, business information systems and media studies.  Universities, authorities and companies from Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, Brazil, Indonesia and Australia are participating in it.

Transfer and sustainability

In collaboration with the North Rhine-Westphalia State Office for Central Police Services, the Department has developed a solution for securely storing data in the cloud and sharing it with other groups and authorities. The results of the SecureCloud research project, which was headed by Professor Torben Weis, have been licensed by a spin-off of the University of Duisburg-Essen, which will make the software fit for commercial operations. The foundation of the start-up RheinByteSystems GmbH was funded by the EXIST programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Social Fund.


In mid-2021, the DFG will be establishing a new transregional research group, FOR 2974 ‘Affective and Cognitive Mechanisms of Specific Internet-Use Disorders’. Professor Matthias Brand, head of the Chair of General Psychology: Cognition, will be its head. The Department of Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science will be involved in five sub-projects of the new research group, which examines the impact of stress on affective and cognitive processing capabilities in people with internet-use disorders.