The Department of Computer and Cognitive Sciences consists of two units which analyze computer systems from different perspectives and using different methods. The focus in Computer Sciences is on technology, in Cognitive ­Sciences on humans. In a world where computers are omnipresent and network almost invisibly with their environment, this dual perspective of technology and the humans who use them is of vital importance. Modern technical systems not only need to work properly, they also need to find social acceptance.
Technology has both positive and negative consequences in this context, depending on how it is used. Cognitive science aims to enhance the understanding of interaction between humans and technical systems to optimize their benefits and reduce risks. Every new technological development brings with it psychological questions that require a prospective approach from psychology and computer sciences in order to improve the resulting opportunities, yet they must also remain sensitive to any possible dysfunctional side effects. The Internet of Things is a main focus of the Department of Computer and Cognitive Sciences. This technology is investigated from both a psychological and technological perspective. One example of the work in this area is a project led by Professor Torben Weis entitled “SEVERE”, the only MERCUR project to have been approved in computer sciences. In it, scientists from TU Dortmund University and the department investigate how ubiquitous systems heal and stabilize themselves. The closer small computers are enmeshed in their surroundings and the more invisible single computers ­become to the user, the more difficult their administration becomes. If the computer is to disappear into the background of a system, the system needs to be able to organize itself and also heal and stabilize itself autonomously if an error occurs.
Applied Computer Sciences has benefited from the appointment of Professor Jens Krüger to the professorship for High-Performance ­Computing. By collaborating within the Center for Computational Sciences and Simulation (CCSS), the Department of Computer and ­Cognitive Sciences will bring its expertise to the operation and expansion of the high-performance computer in Duisburg for simulation and visualization of complex systems.