This page describes why the field of theoretical computer science is important, how it approaches its research questions, and what the concrete research topics of the TCS group at Goethe University are.


In the modern world, more and more real-life decisions about real people are made automatically using algorithms, sometimes also referred to as artificial intelligence systems. It is natural to demand that these algorithms be ethical, in the sense that their behavior must be aligned with moral values. A central question of theoretical computer science is the Alignment Problem: “How can we design algorithms that are guaranteed to be aligned with our values?”. Here are some specific values that we may wish an algorithm to respect:


Humanity still knows little about the power and limitations of algorithms. Even the simplest algorithms based on a few step-by-step rules can behave in complex ways. This emergent complexity is notoriously difficult to understand and analyze, and so we must take great care if we want to design algorithms whose behavior we wish to predict and constrain with any certainty.

Moreover, there are decision tasks that are inherently difficult, in the sense that no algorithm could ever meet all requirements that we would like to put on it—in such cases, we must settle for algorithms that achieve trade-offs between competing requirements.


Theoretical Computer Science uses rigorous mathematics as its main tool. Our aim is to 1) design algorithms whose behavior is mathematically guaranteed to have desirable properties, and 2) prove that no algorithm can achieve a better trade-off between these properties.

Concrete research interests of the group

The Theoretical Computer Science group at Goethe University has the following concrete research interests:

In Frankfurt, we have close connections to these research groups:

Beyond Frankfurt, we have strong links with