Aug.1985-Aug. 1995 Student at the Gymnasium of Bad Königshofen, Germany.
Aug. 1992-July 1993 Exchange student in Cape Town, South Africa, Elsies Rivier high school.
Sep. 1995-Aug. 2001 Diploma student of computer science with minor in mathematics (Sep.1995-Feb.1998) and psychology (March 1998-Aug. 2001) at the University of Würzburg, Germany.
Degree: Diplom mit Auszeichnung (diploma with honors).
Aug. 1999-July 2000 Visiting scholar at the Illinois Genetic Algorithms
Laboratory (IlliGAL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, IL, USA; research assistant at NCSA.
Sep.2001-Sep.2004 Research assistant at the Department of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Würzburg, Germany.
Jan.2002-July 2002 Research assistant at the Illinois Genetic Algorithms Laboratory (IlliGAL)
Aug.2002-May 2003 Research assistant at NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, IL, USA
Jan.2002-Oct.2004 PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, IL, USA.
Degree: PhD in computer science, Advisor: David E. Goldberg.
Apr.2010 Privatdozent (PD) in Computer Science (Informatik), Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Würzburg, Germany.
Sep.2011 Full Professor in Cognitive Modeling, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, University of Tübingen, Germany.
Jan.2012 Cooptation at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science, University of Tübingen, Germany.
Feb.2011-Mar.2011 Visiting Professor at the « Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de Robotique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie », Paris, France.
since Oct.2007 Assistant Professor at the University of Würzburg, Germany and Lab director of Cognitive Bodyspaces: Learning and Behavior (COBOSLAB), funded by the Emmy-Noether program of the German Research Foundation.
Aug.2005-Dec.2005 Visiting Assistant Professor (teaching two CS courses plus research) at the “University of Missouri – St.Louis”, MO, USA
Oct. 2004-Sep.2007 Post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Cognitive Psychology (III) at the University of Würzburg, Germany. Group leader of the European Project (FP6) “MindRACES: From reactive to anticipatory cognitive embodied systems.”
- DFG project together with Prof. J. Hoffmann on “Analyse und Modellierung von Lernprozessen zur antizipativen Verhaltenssteuerung” (“Analysis and Modeling of Learning Processes with respect to Anticipatory Behavior Control”; DFG: HO 1301/4-5; Project extension; 128,051 €; 10/2003-09/2005)
- Research Grant in FP6: MindRACES: From Reactive to Anticipatory Cognitive Embodied Systems (FP6-511931; 212,400 €; 10/2004-09/2007)
- Emmy Noether Grant of the German Research Foundation (DFG: BU 1335/1; ~1,420,389 €; 10/2007-09/2012)
- Research agreement with Honda Research Institute Europe GmbH, Offenbach: “Multiple task-specific anticipatory environment representations for situation-dependent driving behavior” (179,000 €; 03/2010-02/2013)
- ABiALS 2010/11 workshop grants: ZIF (10,000 €), Eu CogII (22,600 €), ESCoP (2,000€).
- Autonomous simulated car racing competition (TORCS): 1st place at IEEE CEC 2009, 3rd place at GECCO 2009, 1st place at IEEE CIG 2009, 2nd place in the overall championship 2009; shared 1st place at WCCI 2010, shared 2nd place at IEEE CIG 2010, 2nd place in the overall championship 2010.
- Best paper award at GECCO 2003 with K. Sastry & D.E. Goldberg.
- Best paper award at GECCO 2008 with O. Herbort.
- Best paper award at GECCO 2009 with G.K.M. Pedersen und P.O. Stalph.
- Diploma with honors (Diplom mit Auszeichnung, University of Würzburg, 10/2001)
- Research fellowship from the Computational Science and Engineering Graduate Option Program (CSE), University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, IL, USA (08/2003-08/2004)
- Patent (submitted 01/2012): “Vehicle with Computing Means for Monitoring and Predicting Traffic Participant Objects”.
- Board of directors of the German Society of Cognitive Science (Gesellschaft für Kognitionswissenschaft, GK, http://www.gk-ev.de).
- Conference Organizer of the 12th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society in Tübingen, September 2014.
- Co-Organizer of the workshops “International Workshop on Learning Classifier Systems” (IWLCS 2007 and IWLCS 2008) at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2007, London, UK; GECCO 2008, Atlanta, Georgia, USA).
- Co-Organizer of workshop series “Anticipatory Behavior in Adaptive Learning Systems” (ABiALS 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010/11). The workshops were held during the Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior: From animals to animats (SAB 2002, 2004, 2006), the euCognition six-monthly meeting in Munich, June 26, 2008, and at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZIF, Bielefeld), 21-22nd of February, 2011.
- Co-Organizer of symposium From Reactive to Anticipatory Cognitive Learning Systems at the AAAI Fall Symposium series, November 3-6, 2005, Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, VA, USA.
- Co-Organizer of the 2010 Simulated Racing Car competitions: The “2010 Simulated Car Racing Championship” and the “Simulated Car Racing Competition 2010: Demolition Derby” at GECCO 2010, WCCI 2010, and IEEE CIG 2010.
- Co-Organizer of the 2011 Simulated Racing Car competitions: The “2011 Simulated Car Racing Championship” and the “Demolition Derby” at EVO*-2011 (only car racing), GECCO 2011, and IEEE CIG 2011.
- Organizer of the 2012 “Demolition Derby” at GECCO 2012.
- Member of Editorial Boards of Journals, Evolutionary Computation, MIT Press; Evolutionary Intelligence, Springer-Verlag; Cognitive Processing, Springer-Verlag.
- Reviewer for journal submissions: Acta Psychologica, Adaptive Behavior, Artificial Life, Artificial Intelligence Review, Constructivist Foundations, Data & Knowledge Engineering Journal, Evolutionary Computation, Experimental Brain Research, Foresight, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks, IEEE Transactions on Data and Knowledge Engineering, Image and Vision Computing, Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing, International Journal of Computers and Applications, Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Journal of Computer Science and Technology, Journal of Computing and Information Technology, Journal of Global Optimization, Journal of Heuristics, Journal of Machine Learning Research, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Machine Learning, Natural Computing, Neurocomputing, Neuroscience Letters, Pattern Analysis and Applications Journal, Pattern Recognition Letters, Psychological Research, Psychological Review, Topics in Cognitive Science (topiCS).
- Track chair (Learning Classifier Systems and other Genetics Based Machine Learning Techniques) for the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2006)
- Track chair (Learning Classifier Systems and other Genetics Based Machine Learning Techniques) for the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2010)
- Tutorial chair for the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2009).
Field of Research
My team is a highly interdisciplinary research team that focusses on how the brain works in general. In pursuing this highly challenging endeavor, we currently focus our research on three key aspects: First, on cognitive bodyspaces, that is, on how the brain represents the body in the surrounding space, on anticipations, that is, on how the brain represents the world for anticipatory behavioral control and cognition, and finally, on how objects are represented in bodyspaces and in anticipation of potential object interactions.
In particular, my team is investigating cognitive bodyspaces, that is, interactive spatial representations of the body within its environment. In particular, we explore how the brain represents the body in space and the space around the body. Doing so we conduct experimental psychological studies and we develop cognitive models of the observed results. In particular, we explore phenomenal and behavioral effects of these representations and their (multimodal, modular and hierarchical) interactions. We model the observations on several levels including normative, Bayesian, and neural levels of cognitive modeling. Moreover, we apply and develop machine learning approaches to reveal the necessary computational mechanisms for learning such representations.
We furthermore pursue the idea that representations in the brain, such as bodyspace representations, are primarily not for re-representing the world (homunculus problem) but rather they are for anticipating the potential consequences when actively interacting with the world. We are convinced that representations in the brain primarily develop for identifying ecologically relevant aspects of the world, for guiding action decision making, and for successfully controlling behavior. Based on this presupposition we also investigate how more abstract, conceptual representations can be developed out of these spatial representations – ultimately leading to the capability of understanding and producing language. Moreover, we also model aspects of short-term memory and attention from this perspective.
These investigations on anticipatory representations of bodyspaces also lead to research on how objects are represented within these bodyspaces and on how object interactions are selectively activated and pursued. Objects are ubiquitous in our world and the number of objects present is still increasing in our culture. Objects occur dominantly in particular contexts, have particular behavior-relevant properties, afford particular interactions, and also are of particular ecological and motivational relevance for us humans. Not surprisingly, object concepts are thus highly distributed in our brain and go way beyond mere visual object recognition. Recently, we are investigating how these object aspects are activated, interact, and unfold over time, especially when actively planning and controlling object interactions.
Butz, M. V. (2008). How and why the brain lays the foundations for a conscious self. Constructivist Foundations, 4, 1-42.
Butz, M. V. (2013). Separating goals from behavioral control: Implications from learning predictive modularizations. New Ideas in Psychology. 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2013.04.001.
Butz, M. V., Herbort, O., & Hoffmann, J. (2007). Exploiting redundancy for flexible behavior: Unsupervised learning in a modular sensorimotor control architecture. Psychological Review, 114, 1015-1046.
Butz, M. V., Thomaschke, R., Linhardt, M. J., & Herbort, O. (2010). Remapping motion across modalities: Tactile rotations influence visual motion judgments. Experimental Brain Research, 207, 1-11.
Ehrenfeld, S., & Butz, M. V. (2013). The modular modality frame model: continuous body state estimation and plausibility-weighted information fusion. Biological Cybernetics, 107, 61-82.