Ton de Kok. Foto | Angeline Swinkels

Logistics expert De Kok appointed new director of NWO institute CWI

Ton de Kok has been appointed as the new director of the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). The professor of Quantitative Analysis of Operational Processes and chair of research group OPAC (department of IE&IS) will lead the NWO institute in Amsterdam as from October 1, 2020. He will remain affiliated with the TU/e as professor in his former group for one day a week. De Kok succeeds current CWI director Jos Baeten, who also previously served as professor at TU/e.

photo Angeline Swinkels

De Kok describes his switch as a fantastic and, to him, unexpected step. “When I was asked to apply for the position, I wondered why on earth they came to me. That response tells you all you need to know about how special this position is.” He says that he thought long before accepting the offer. “I obviously have a fantastic workplace here, but this seems liked a wonderful new challenge after thirty years at TU/e.” The fact that he remains affiliated with TU/e for one day a week gives him the opportunity to strengthen the ties between the CWI and the university.

The professor suspects that people considered him to be a suitable CWI director because of the way in which he links mathematics to practical, logistical problems. “Put me in front of a group of people and everyone in the room will understand that mathematics is an important field.” Many of his colleagues at TU/e don’t realize how mathematical the work he carries out with his OPAC group really is, De Kok says. “I may seem like a mathematician who drigressed but you need complicated mathematics for the algorithms we design. Because of the stochastic nature of the processes we describe, differential equations alone aren’t enough.”


De Kok likes the nice detail that he participated as a newly appointed professor at TU/e in the first management program for that target group in 1993. “I was the youngest member in a group together with Jan Karel Lenstra and Jos Baeten. I will now succeed Jos, and Karel was his predecessor at the CWI. That program certainly had an impact.” Incidentally, De Kok has a long history with the CWI. “After my studies in Leiden I had the opportunity to study for my doctorate at the CWI, but at the time I didn’t feel like working with all those old people. I eventually obtained my doctorate at the Vrije Universiteit, also in Amsterdam, which meant that I still visited the CWI frequently in those days.”

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