1983 …2021

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Personal profile

Artistic and research interests


Pekka Orponen is Professor of Computer Science at the Aalto University School of Science. He received his MSc and PhD degrees in Computer Science at the University of Helsinki in 1983 and 1986, respectively. After a postdoctoral period at the University of Toronto, he held assistant and associate professorships at the University of Helsinki, before moving first to the University of Jyväskylä (1996-2001) and then to the Helsinki University of Technology, now Aalto University (2001-present). He served as the founding Head of the Aalto Department of Information and Computer Science for 2008-2014, and then as Vice-Head for Research of the newly-established Aalto Department of Computer Science for 2015-2016.

His general research area is algorithms and complexity, with specific contributions spanning computational complexity theory, foundations of neural network and analog computation, stochastic algorithms and distributed sensor networks, and the computational theory and algorithmic design of nucleic acid nanostructures. His Nature 2015 article on the algorithmic design of 3D wireframe DNA nanostructures (with co-authors in Aalto and at the Karolinska Institutet) is currently listed as an ISI highly-cited paper, i.e. within the top 1% from its publication year in the areas of biology and biochemistry.

In addition to his academic activities, Pekka Orponen serves on the Supervisory Board of the Finnish Cultural Foundation, which is one of the largest private foundations for arts and science in Europe, and on the Board of Informatics Europe, the association of European Computer Science departments. He is also a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and serves as the Chairman of the Academies' joint National Committee for Research Data, representing Finland in CODATA, the Data Committee of the International Science Council. In the latter capacity, he was programme committee co-chair of the 14th Plenary Meeting of the Research Data Alliance that took place at Aalto University on 23-25 Oct 2019.

 Research interests:

  • Algorithmics of self-organisation
  • DNA self-assembly
  • Stochastic and online algorithms
  • Computational complexity theory

Research group page: https://research.cs.aalto.fi/nc/

Personal web page: https://users.ics.aalto.fi/orponen/

Education/Academic qualification

Doctoral degree, Humanities, University of Helsinki

Award Date: 30 May 1986

Licentiate degree, Natural Sciences, University of Helsinki

Award Date: 30 Jan 1986

Master's degree, Engineering and Technology, University of Helsinki

Award Date: 7 Apr 1983


  • Algorithms
  • Complexity
  • DNA nanotechnology


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