Podcast/Video Interviews by Stephen Ibaraki

A Chat with Jaap van den Herik: Mathematician; Computer Scientist; Researcher; Founding Father of AI in the Netherlands; co-founder Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS)

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Jaap van den Herik.

Jaap van den HerikJaap van den Herik started as a Chess Player, became a Mathematician and then a Computer Scientist, and a Founding Father of AI in the Netherlands. Subsequently, in 1991 he caused some upset in the Netherlands by his Inaugural Address at the Faculty of Law of the Leiden University, titled: Can Computers Judge Court Cases? His answer was affirmative.

Jaap van den Herik (1947) studied Mathematics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (with honours), obtained his PhD at Delft University of Technology in 1983 (subject: Chess and Artificial Intelligence) In 1984 he was visiting professor at the McGill University, School of Computer Science in Montreal. At Leiden University, van den Herik was affiliated with the department of Computer Science (now LIACS) between 1984 and 1988. Subsequently, he was appointed professor of Computer Science at Maastricht University (1987- 2008). In 1988 he accepted a part-time appointment as professor of the named chair Legal Informatics at Leiden University. In 2008 he changed universities (from Maastricht to Tilburg) and accepted a professorship of Computer Science at the Faculty of Humanities of Tilburg University, where he gave shape to the new research area e-Humanities (2008-2016). Since 2012, he is also a fellow professor at the Centre for Regional Knowledge Development (CRK), for the supervision of PhD students (nowadays called Dual PhD Centre (DPC)).

With effect from January 1, 2014, his appointment at Leiden University was broadened to professor of Law and Computer Science at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Science. He became part of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). Together with Joost Kok and Jacqueline Meulman, he founded the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS).

In the Netherlands he has (co-)initiated various research areas and has put them on the (inter)national research map by designing a unifying structure for them and giving the activities shape and character. Seven telling instances are: (1) Computer Chess Association in the Netherlands (CSVN, 1980; honorary member), (2) Netherlands Association of Artificial Intelligence ((B)NVKI, 1981; honorary member), (3) Legal Knowledge Systems (JURIX foundation, 1989; Honorary President). Moreover, (4) he is the Founding Director of IKAT (Institute of Knowledge and Agent Technology, 1990) and (5) one of the founders of the Netherlands Research School for Informatics and Knowledge Systems (SIKS, 1996, Honorary Member) He is Founding Director of TiCC (Tilburg centre for Cognition and Communication) and (7) co-founder of Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS, 2014). Furthermore, he has been active within NWO (Chairperson of ToKeN 2000, TOKEN, and CATCH), as well as Chair of Big Grid (NWO-NCF) and Vice-Chair of NCF, and Co-Founder and Executive Board Member of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities. Van den Herik has been a successful supervisor of 93 promoti/tae (PhD students).

Internationally, he promoted Computer Chess as a leading AI research area in the ICCA/ICGA Journal (Honorary Editor) for 33 years. He is an ECCAI fellow (now EurAI fellow) since 2003 and a research member of CLAIRE. In 2012, he was co-recipient (PI Jos Vermaseren) of an ERC Advanced Research Grant for the HEPGAME (High Energy Physics equations and GAMEs) project, "Solving High Energy Physics Equations using Monte Carlo Gaming Techniques". Van den Herik received together Omid E. David, Moshe Koppel, and Nathan S. Netanyahu a Humies Award in 2014, for their work "Genetic Algorithms for Evolving Computer Chess Programs".

Van den Herik is a member of the Royal Holland Society of Science and Humanities (KHMW) and of the Batavian Society for Experimental Philosophy. For the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences he was a member of TWINS. From a societal point of view, he served as a board member at SeniorWeb (2020 - 2024) . Currently, he is active as science advisor at the Max Euwe Centre (MEC) and strategic advisor at HCSS.

In March 2018, the Committee of Deans of Leiden University offered him the opportunity to further develop LCDS into a Multidisciplinary direction, viz. into the direction of Legal Technologies. Together with the head of the Centre for Professional Learning (CPL, Nikol Hopman) and Jan Scholtes, van den Herik launched a really professional course LLTP (Leiden Legal Technologies Program). The new course line was supported by the Faculties of Law, the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, and the Faculty of Science. Additionally, financial support was obtained from the Municipality of The Hague and the Ministry of Justice and Security.

In 2019 van den Herik was appointed part-time professor of Artificial Intelligence at the Shandong Normal University in China. The appointment started enthusiastically, but Corona interrupted the cooperation. On October 8, 2021 van den Herik had his valedictory lecture at Leiden University, titled: "The power of the blind spot". As professor emeritus he is now guiding the final three PhD students. One of them, the talented PhD student Georgios Stathis developed under his supervision the concept of iContract (meaning intelligent contract). Owing to our long-time working relation with Dr. Pavan Duggal, Advocate of the High Court in India we were able to present the ideas twice to their judges. On March 18, 2024 our ideas were published in AI & Ethics under the title Ethical and preventive legal technology. There, attention is also given to the European AI ACT.


Distinctions from the Field

  • *BNVKI - Benelux Association for Artificial Intelligence (Honorary member)
  • CSVN - Computer Chess Association of the Netherlands (Honorary member)
  • JURIX - Foundation for JURIdical eXpert systems (Honorary chair)
  • SIKS - School of Information and Knowledge Systems (Honorary member)
  • ECCAI / EurAI - European Community for Artificial Intelligence (Fellow)
  • ICCA / ICGA - International Computer Chess (Games) Association (Honorary Editor)

Other Information

  1. article in AI & Ethics, published March 18, 2024
    Topic among others: European AI ACT.

  2. Valedictory Lecture
    Universiteit Leiden
    The Power of the Blind Spot = student.universiteitleiden.hl
    WEBThe Power of the Blind Spot Valedictory Lecture, in abbreviated form presented by Professor H. Jaap van den Herik ...The Power of the PhD student 9 4.1 1988-1999: The ...
    Bestandsgrootte: 972KB
    - Aantal pagina's: 35

  3. History and Future of AI
    Invited Keynote lecture ECAI 2024 in Kraków
    for the Future see slide 28 and 29
    ECAI -

  4. Educational Material
    LLTP -

    India -