The Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies plans to strengthen its research activities in the field of Informatics Engineering

2022 10 06 Moksline tiriamoji veikla380x250The Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics of Vilnius University plans to strengthen its research activities in the field of Informatics Engineering by initiating research in the areas of quantum computing, quantum cryptography, and quantum blockchains. The planned research is expected to contribute to the application of quantum computing in the field of blockchain technology, to the research and development of quantum-based consensus protocols, and to improving the security and performance of blockchain systems.

The research topic is closely linked to the research already being carried out at the MIF Institute for Data Science and Digital Technologies in the areas of data science, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and blockchain technologies and is planned to become a continuous research line. This will enrich the experience of the young researchers and create a team that will focus on high-level research, which will undoubtedly increase the competitiveness of the Institute and the Faculty in the Lithuanian scientific knowledge market.

Visiting senior researcher position


Prof. Valentina Dagienė Receives an International Award: “The Goal Is to Help People Experience the Beauty of Science”

2022 09 06 Valentina Dagiene380x250Professor Valentina Dagienė shares her charisma, enthusiasm, and scientific knowledge with more than just Vilnius University (VU); her achievements and work have travelled the world. She is probably the only scientist whose work is known to everyone from a Lithuanian fifth-grader to a Japanese teacher. In August this year, at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) held in Indonesia, Prof. Dr. V. Dagienė of the Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (VU), was presented with an exclusive award for her services to the IOI community.

The conference highlighted that in 2007, V. Dagienė initiated and annually organizes the IOI conference on research in educating students with IT skills around the world, and founded the international peer-reviewed scientific journal Olympiad in Informatics, which is still published annually. V. Dagienė has served on the IOI Olympiad’s International Committee for thirteen years.

V. Dagienė talked to VU News about her work, achievements, and motivation.

For many years, you have been involved in computer science education around the world, and with it, the student Olympiads. What motivates you to be so actively involved in computer science education?

In general, I am motivated by the opportunity to improve children’s learning, to have at least some influence on education, to help not only Lithuania but also different countries to teach better, to involve children from an early age, to help them experience the beauty of science - informatics, mathematics. It’s also about finding and nurturing children with an aptitude for computer science.

You have served on the International Committee of the IOI Olympiad for thirteen years. What was your path to this Committee?

For many years before that, I organized the Lithuanian Olympiad in Informatics, prepared assignments for the School of Young Programmers, wrote methodological articles for teachers, and led seminars. I had a lot of contacts with schools and teachers. My research work is related to informatics didactics and education.

What is the responsibility of the IOI community? Which countries are in the community?

The IOI community makes it possible for the most talented students to come and challenge themselves. There are many countries; the event annually gathers students from 85-90 countries.

What have been the biggest challenges over the years?

There have been a lot of things, including political disagreements, such as some countries not being allowed to enter other countries (Israel was not accepted this year in Indonesia). Also, all kinds of subject-specific decisions - which programming languages to use, how to present tasks to students, etc. In addition, I’ve set up a conference during the Olympiads, I organize it every year, collect papers, and publish a volume of the Olympiads in Informatics magazine.

What changes do you see in the international informatics community? How does Lithuania look in this context?

Students are getting smarter, and we need to adapt to new opportunities. Lithuania stays around the middle, sometimes above the average. We would love to get gold medals (it’s been a long time since we’ve got one), but it requires more investment - time with the students and, of course, the teachers. After all, school teachers are the first coaches of future Olympiad participants.


Researcher Seeks to Understand How Misinterpreting Statistics and Graphs Affects People’s Behavior

Gerda Ana Melnik 380x250While making decisions, people often say it happened “naturally”; however, there are complex mechanisms in our brains at the time. The human brain works like a computer processor that receives, processes, stores, modifies, and transmits information but sometimes freezes. Dr. Gerda Ana Melnik-Leroy, a researcher at the prestigious École Normale in Paris and a researcher at the Data Science and Technology Institute (DSTI) of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (MIF) at Vilnius University (VU), believes that serious and comprehensive research requires analyzing a problem or object of study from the perspectives of different sciences.

In 2020, the COVID-19 information graphs and illustrations have been used extensively around the world as data scientists and journalists have shifted to tracking and presenting information about the pandemic - from infection and death rates to vaccination data and its variables. Policymakers also relied on COVID-19 data and charts to make important decisions. Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy points out that the general public has significant gaps in their understanding of statistics and the interpretation of graphs, reinforcing the tendency towards cognitive biases, which gives grounds for numerous threats. which gives grounds for numerous threats.

To better understand how the human brain perceives and processes incoming information, where processing errors arise from, whether the processing is highly accurate, and how this can affect behavior, the VU researcher is currently conducting a study entitled Cognitive Mechanisms of Information Processing: Numerical and Linguistic Information. The research has already landed her a Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (LAS) scholarship.

“There are, indeed, many dangers. One is that people are too confident in their own decisions and knowledge. Research has shown that people tend to overestimate their abilities. The fact that we are shown a lot of data, it is explained to us, and then in a few months, we feel like experts - that seems to be the problem, because we probably still know very little. Especially since even the experts don’t know everything about a new virus like COVID-19,” the researcher names the first threat.

Another major danger, she says, is that it’s very easy to manipulate both numerical and graphical data. Marketing has been using it for a very long time, sometimes without even knowing the mechanisms behind it but knowing it works: “For example, displaying a graph on one scale or another can paint a particular picture. When we choose a certain design, our brains are automatically triggered and pick up the information without us even realizing it. When we see a graphic, we rarely think it should have been illustrated this way and not that way. Our brains don’t have time for that. We see something and come to conclusions.”

Why do cognitive biases exist?

One hypothesis as to why cognitive biases exist is that they are not just an error of nature but a special mechanism that facilitates our daily lives. Humans have to make many decisions with split-second precision every day, but it would take a lot of time if we did things at 100% every time. In many situations, the most effective way is to make decisions without overthinking; otherwise, we would freeze and not get on with our daily work.

“The assumption is that our cognitive mechanisms are designed to calculate things roughly, and in most situations in life, this is perfectly sufficient. However, there are rare cases where this does not work. When we have those cases with data, with statistics, we need that precision, but our mechanisms don’t work that way unless we make some reasonable, concrete efforts,” says Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy.

Interestingly, these biases are neutral, meaning they are cross-cultural, not differentiated by gender or age category, and education has little impact on them. According to the VU researcher, the consequences of the bias were particularly evident when people were simply bombarded with data on COVID-19, climate change, and war.

“We have become a data-driven society as if we were all data scientists. In this context, these biases have become very pronounced,” she says.

For years, scientists have been trying to find out if there are patterns in people’s behavior and decision-making. In short, at what point in performing a specific and repetitive task does the human brain, compared to a computer, seem to get stuck, to freeze.

“For example, people will choose to have surgery in a clinic with a 95% chance of success over one with a 5% mortality rate. Even though they are, in fact, exactly the same,” Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy gives an example.

Is objectivity even possible?

Much of the data visualization that bombards us today is sometimes just decoration and at worst a distraction or even misinformation; however, some cases highlight the scale of the problem and draw public attention.

One example is a graphic by Simon Scarr, Senior Designer at Thomsoms Reuters. The graph shows the number of deaths in Iraq each month from 2003 to 2011. It is also an inverted bar graph: the higher the number of deaths in a given month, the further down the bars go. S. Scarr has chosen the color red, which means that the whole graph looks like blood running down the page. In case the message was ambiguous, the chart was titled Iraq’s Bloody Toll. But another data visualization expert, Andy Cotgreave, saw this chart and did a little experiment. First, he recolored the graph by presenting the same columns in a cold blue color. Then, he turned the chart upside down. Eventually, he changed the title to Iraq: Deaths on the Decline.

The change in emotional impact when looking at the graphs is drastic. Which chart is better? This depends on the message behind it. But there is another question. Is objectivity even possible when we present graphical information to the general public?

“I think knowing how human perception of information works, and having the goodwill to use that knowledge, it would be possible to create something approaching the optimal option,” Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy does not rule out the possibility of complete objectivity.

“We are currently researching different types of graphs and looking at how people respond to them to understand where one type of graph is more useful than another. There are two things. One is natural perception. For example, we perceive red as a warm color, blue as a cold color, etc. If, for example, we show low temperatures as red and high temperatures as blue, the perception seems to freeze there.

Some are innate reflexes and some are cultural. But when we talk about statistics and data, we are talking about knowledge: math, statistics, etc. That knowledge is often very scarce. So, mathematical knowledge can help us cope with these biases if we have a solid cognitive mechanism, but if we don’t, our natural perceptions take over and can distort the information in certain situations. After that, everything happens in a chain reaction based on how we take in information ad how it affects our behavior. Studies show that behavior is strongly affected. Suppose you have seen the same information several times and misinterpreted it. This will only reinforce the tendency to behave in a certain way, which may not necessarily be rational,” the researcher says.

Challenges for women in science exist

Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy returned to Lithuania with the aim of using her knowledge of cognitive science to enrich mathematical algorithms, software, models, and even artificial intelligence systems. In addition to the desire to promote interdisciplinary interaction between the social sciences and the exact sciences, the researcher also notes other cross-cultural differences between Lithuania and France.

One of the main challenges is balancing career and motherhood: “When I returned to Lithuania, I was positively shocked by the joy surrounding women having children. In France, I worked in a high-level laboratory, but this topic was taboo. One PhD student got pregnant, and I saw them looking at her like she was a leper. Talking about wanting children was like betraying science.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but in Lithuania, at least personally, I haven’t seen or heard such things. My supervisor always supported me, and I knew it would be no tragedy if I announced I was pregnant, which would have been the case in France, for example. This aspect is psychologically significant,” she recalls.

However, the researcher does not hide the fact that there is still room for improvement in Lithuania, and there is still pressure on women in society to choose between having children and having a career. But women are often more likely than men to convince themselves they have to choose. This just goes to show that the problem still exists in society.

“There was a study on knowledge of math. The groups of young women and men were given identical math exam papers. In one case, the groups were told nothing at all, and in the other, it was mentioned that the exam is difficult and some will find it hard to pass. The study showed that the men were unaffected by the cue, but the differences between the women groups were striking. I think it cuts across the board,” she says.


World Student Programming Olympiad: will you join?

2022 09 02 Programavimo olimpiada900x675

We invite you to participate in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) qualifiers and the Open Cup series. Participants solve problems by building complete programs to solve them. The programs are sent to a testing system which checks their correctness. Everything is done automatically online.

The competition is team-based. A team consists of three or fewer members. Students of all courses at VU MIF (or other faculties) can participate.

This competition prepares for the Olympics, the quarter-finals scheduled for October. We will represent Vilnius University. The best performing teams qualify for the semi-finals, which should take place this autumn at Delft University in the Netherlands (this has been the case every year in the past). It is worth mentioning that we have qualified for the ICPC finals twice: in 2017, the finals were held in the USA (where we came 34th), and in 2018, in Beijing (China), where we came 12th and won bronze. The selection will be determined by the Baltic Selection tournament, which will include teams from Estonian and Latvian universities as well as KTU and VGTU. It is planned that everything will take place in the MIF STSC (Šaltinių str. 1A) computer classrooms. The specific time and place of the tournaments (classrooms) will be specified.

The Open Cup series runs throughout the school year (about 20 rounds) and takes place on Sundays at the MIF STSC. Usually from 10 am to 3 pm. The results also influence the selection for the Olympics. The first round is scheduled for September. By the way, it is possible to join from any stage.

We are also quite active in Codeforces tournaments (individually and in teams), coding camps and other open international Olympiads. You can see the performances of MIF teams from the last few academic years here.

The Programming Olympiads are remote by nature, so naturally, this way of participating is also possible, preferably with all team members in one place.

Contact person: Vladas Tumasonis,

If you wish to participate, please write to him with the subject Olympics 2022. Please indicate your name, course and study programme. You can already form teams (and choose a team name). Otherwise, we will create the teams ourselves. You can keep the same (or slightly modified) teams from last year.

1. Programming languages: C/C++, Java, Delphi, Python, Perl, etc.
2. English wording of tasks.


Thermo Fisher Scientific Nominal Scholarship Competition 2022-2023

“Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” UAB in cooperation with Vilnius University invites prospective 1-year masters students from VU Life Sciences Center, Faculty of Chemistry and Geosciences, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics to prepare Master final thesis at the Company.

Favorite students selected to prepare Master final thesis at the Company will receive Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics nominal scholarship of 1.800 Eur per single academic year. VU students who prepare the final thesis at the Company for two academic years and if study results do not worsen, are entitled for a second-year scholarship, therefore total scholarship would amount to 3.600 Eur.

Applicants’ Bachelor final thesis (or exams) and Main study field subjects weighted average grades must be no less than 8 to qualify for the Scholarship competition.

This nominal scholarship does not impact students’ chances to receive other scholarships from the State, Vilnius University, “Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” or other.

First year Master students must submit applications for the competition by September 15, 2022

Students must submit following documents: 

  • Curriculum vitae (CV);
  • Motivational letter, also indicating preferred Research groups;
  • Copy of Bachelor studies diploma and its supplement;
  • Copy of Secondary school graduation diploma;
  • Copy of other achievements, such as scientific and/or social activities (e.g. participations in scientific competitions, tournaments and other);
  • Recommendation from VU Faculty or Employer would be additional benefit.

Application documents should be submitted to VU Study administration department via e-mail: and “Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” UAB via e-mail: titled “Thermo Fisher Scientific nominal scholarship”.

Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to “Thermo Fisher Scientific” representative – Edvin Stankevič, , or VU representative – Jurgita Alonderyte-Venckiene e-mail: .


Celebration of the start of the academic year at the Faculty

The academic year for first Bachelor's and Master's students starts on 1st of September.

Study activities (lectures) for first year Bachelor's and Master's students starts on 5th of September.

The celebration of 1st of September at the University is marked by the ceremonial hoisting of the flag of Vilnius University in the Library courtyard at 9.30 am.

The students of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (MIF) will be welcomed on 1st September at 10 a.m. in the courtyard of the VU MIF (Naugarduko str. 24).

2022 08 30 Mokslo metu pradzia900x600

Programme for 1st of September

10:30-11:30 Undergraduate students' meeting with the Study Programme Chairs (SPC).
10:30-11:30 Master's students meeting with the Curator and the Study Administrators.
11:30-12:30 Master students meeting with Study Programme Chairs (SPC).
From 11:30 the MIF Student Union (MIF SA) invites undergraduate students to meet with the tutors and after the meeting to prepare together for the festive procession.
At 14:45, the procession of Vilnius University staff, students and alumni to the University's main building, the Great Courtyard (Universiteto str. 3) starts. The procession will start from the Palace of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.
15.30-16.30 - Ceremony of the beginning of the academic year RENOVATIO STUDIORUM in the Grand Courtyard of the University.

MIF SA invites you to create new traditions and spend the evening of 1st of September with the MIF community at a BBQ party in the Faculty courtyard. All those who want to spend the evening together are welcome to come back to the MIF Courtyard (Naugarduko str. 24) from 17 pm.

You can find out more about the event here.


VU Signed a Sponsorship Agreement with EPAM Systems Establishing Additional Scholarships for MIF Students

epam sistema1

The software engineering company EPAM Systems joined in on the Vilnius University’s (VU) Scholarship of the 450th Anniversary, which aims to contribute to solving financial issues related to accessing higher education. On Tuesday, VU signed a sponsorship agreement with its new partner. The company allocated €10 thousand for additional scholarships to be allocated to students at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (MIF) facing financial difficulties.

“Some two-thirds of Vilnius University students come from smaller cities and towns. It remains a major challenge facing many students planning to study and live in one of the big cities - Vilnius, Kaunas, or Šiauliai,” noted Head of the VU Partnerships Development Division Lina Kižinienė. “Therefore, Vilnius University and its partners aim to provide financial assistance to every applicant who would otherwise not be able to obtain an education at the University due to financial difficulties.”

EPAM Lietuva General Director Linas Grinevičius stated that the company’s employees are trying to change the lives of students by providing training and mentoring programs, internships and opening community schools.

“The industry is dynamically transforming, we constantly see the introduction of new technologies and tools. We believe that basic knowledge and university education are the foundation for startups to thrive in this fast-paced environment. It provides a foundation for systematic thinking and the key skills that help people become the most valuable professionals.

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We encourage creativity and unorthodox ways of doing things, we help those taking the first steps toward essential knowledge provided by Vilnius University. We invite the first-year students to start their journey with an EPAM scholarship, grow with us or discover their own paths. We expect graduates to have an engineering mindset: innovators and trailblazers who change the rules and seize the opportunity to do things in ways no one has done before,” L. Grinevičius said, addressing the future first-year students.

VU is one of the first universities in Lithuania to award first-year students with the incentive Scholarship of the 450th Anniversary, thus aiming to reduce the acute problem of social exclusion in Lithuania. The university has been awarding this scholarship since 2019. This scholarship aims to reduce the acute problem of social exclusion in Lithuania, increase the accessibility of university studies, and help those accepted into the University’s first-cycle and integral study programmes adapt to the new environment.

VU established a scholarship for 100 students with its own funds. Companies like Light Conversion, Coherent Solutions, Ekspla, OPTOMENAS, Vandens harmonija, GJ Magma, Hnit-Baltic, EKSMA Optics, Altechna, Standa, Optogama, Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics, Transvera, and EPAM Systems joined in on the VU’s Scholarship of the 450th Anniversary.

A New Place for Start-up Ideas to Become a Reality: The VU Tech Hub Space Has Been Opened

On June 16, after more than two years of construction, the Tech Hub cooperation space was opened at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Vilnius University (VU EVAF). The premises will bring together start-ups of the Tech Hub pre-accelerator run by the Innovation Agency together with Vilnius University, the premises will also host various events, hackathons, conferences, and workshops.

“The first time I heard the words “Tech Hub” was three years ago. Back then, not many people had heard of it or knew what it was. But obviously, in three years this concept has taken root in life and activities, and now in space. It reveals the tendency and desire to integrate science, studies and business and to bring students back to university so that they not only participate in lectures and seminars but also discover other new, meaningful activities here,” said VU Rector Prof. Rimvydas Petrauskas.

Many guests from the start-up and innovation ecosystem attended the event. Vice-Minister of Economics and Innovation Vincas Jurgutis said he was pleasantly surprised and inspired by the hustle and bustle of the start-ups. “Lithuania’s ambitions are impossible without creative, hard-working and educated people. Lithuania is gradually embracing the fact that if we want a breakthrough, the most important things are communion and the exchange of knowledge. We hope that these premises will nurture a lot of new business and investment,” he said.

tech hub

Prof. Dr Aida Mačerinskienė, Dean of VU EVAF, was also happy with the opening: “These spaces confirm the fact that the 440th anniversary of the university not only commemorates the historical importance of the university but is also a way to be modern. We look forward to seeing new business ideas come into being inside these spaces,” she said.

The event also featured a pitch battle of the best Tech Hub pre-accelerator start-ups. The representatives of 8 teams talked about the problem their start-up would address and the proposed solution, introduced their teams and achievements. The winner of the battle was chosen by a commission of three experts, taking into account the quality of the presentation and the potential of the start-up.

Seqvision, a start-up from the fifth pre-accelerator cycle, won the title of the best starter. SeqVision has developed a solution for biotechnology laboratories that work with plasmids - synthetic DNA molecules created by scientists. A DNA plasmid is a sequence of genetic information. Once this molecule has been created, its correct sequence needs to be verified and confirmed. It is a tedious, time-consuming process that requires reagents. The start-up’s proposed plasmid sequencing service facilitates this process by providing more sample information in less time and easier sample preparation than other sequencing platforms.

VU Technology Port, together with the Innovation Agency (formerly the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA)), has been running the Tech Hub pre-accelerators for almost two years. It is a three-month intensive training for start-ups where teams gain knowledge of business development, receive mentoring, stay in touch with investors and business angels, and can turn their idea into a minimal product.

So far, 110 startups from Lithuania and abroad have completed the programme, while another 20 are currently participating. 6 pre-accelerator cycles were held over a two-year period. The teams participating in the programme consist of over 300 people. Some of the startups, e.g., benme,Oxus.AI, Curtains Calculator, and others, have already attracted investments, while others have participated in acceleration programmes abroad, and received funding from various EU support measures, private investors and business angels.
All pre-accelerator participants will be able to use the Tech Hub space. The university community and the entire innovation and start-up ecosystem will be invited to participate in various events related to the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship.

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