Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Bernhard Korte

E-mail: dm(at)
Phone: +49 228 73 8770
Institute: Research Institute for Discrete Mathematics
Research Areas: Research Area KL
Former Research Area K
Birthdate: 03.Nov 1938
Mathscinet-Number: 105130

Academic Career


PhD in Mathematics, University of Bonn


Habilitation, University of Bonn


Professor, University of Regensburg

1971 - 1973

Professor, University of Bielefeld (charter dean)

Since 1972

Professor, University of Bonn

Since 1987

Director, Research Institute for Discrete Mathematics, University of Bonn

Guest professorship at Stanford, Cornell, Waterloo, MIT, Yale, Rome, Pisa, Barcelona, PUC Rio de Janeiro, Rutger's.

Research Profile

The application of combinatorial optimization to chip design is still an extremely challenging field to which I have devoted my research during the last 20 years. By applying methods of discrete mathematics new theoretical insights into combinatorial structures are generated. Moreover highly complex chips can only be designed by our methods, the so-called BonnTools. More than 1,000 most complex microprocessors and ASICS (application specific integrated circuits) have been designed by BonnTools. It is very satisfying to learn that these designs are only possible by using our mathematics and that by this, billions of Dollars we saved.

Of course, I will continue my research in the area of combinatorial optimization, especially the most successful application of combinatorial optimization in chip design. Here we are faced with many new and highly complex problems. It is a fact that by now billions of transistors and kilometers of nets have to be packed on a square centimeter of silicon; we have to re-design many of our algorithms. While it was formerly possible to deal with design goals and objective functions separately and consecutively, we have now to attack different objectives simultaneously. Timing, packing density, buffering, transistor sizing, vt-optimization, power consumption, noise and routing have to be integrated in a new and common framework. This is a great challenge for our future work. In leading edge chip design only a few picoseconds matters in timing matter to get a feasible design. In order to be successful we have to develop new theoretical results and algorithms, especially new approximation results, which will then lead to an overall improvement of our BonnTools.

Research Projects and Activities

Long-term cooperation project “Combinatorial Optimization and Chip Design”
with IBM, USA and Magma Design Automation, USA, jointly with Jens Vygen, since 1986

Several projects of the European Commission within the framework of PROCOPE, ESPRIT, Human Capital and Mobility, DONET (Discrete Optimization Network)
Co-director and German Coordinator, since 1988

Contribution to Research Areas

Former Research Area K
I have continued my successful research in combinatorial optimization and chip design. Based on new theoretical insights BonnTools, a software system with several million lines of code will be continuously enhanced. New technologies and further miniaturization demand new combinatorial structures, new algorithms and different approaches (e.g. gridless routing, facility location, resource sharing, mask colouring, transistor sizing, and cell layout). However, there are still many challenging open problems in chip design [1].
Research Area KL

Selected Publications

[1] Bernhard Korte, Jens Vygen
Combinatorial problems in chip design
Building bridges
of Bolyai Soc. Math. Stud. : 333--368
Publisher: Springer, Berlin
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-85221-6_12

Publication List


• Acta Mathematicae Applicatae Sinica
• Advances in Applied Mathematics
• Annals of Operations Research
• Combinatorica
• Chinese Journal of Operations Research
• Discrete Applied Mathematics
• Discrete Optimization
• IEICE Transactions on Fundamentals of Electronics
• Communications and Computer Science (Japan, Overseas Advisor)
• Japan Journal of Applied Mathematics
• Mathematical Programming
• Ser. A, Mathematical Systems in Economics
• Matemática Applicata e Computational
• Methods of Operations Research
• Operations Research Spektrum
• Optimization, Mathematische Operationsforschung
• Zeitschrift für Operations Research



Distinguished senior fellow, Rutgers Center for Operations Research, New Brunswick, NJ, USA


Grande Ufficiale dell’ Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana


Honorary doctorate, Université deglè Studi di Roma, La Sapienza, Italy


Honorary professor of Applied Mathematics, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China


Professor honorário da Universidade, Ponteficia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


Ordinary member of the North-Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences


Alexander-v.-Humboldt-Research-Prize (France: Prix Alexander de Humboldt)


Fellow of the Institute of Combinatorics and Applications, Canada


Order of Merits of the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia


State Prize of North-Rhine-Westphalia


Member of Leopoldina (German National Academy of Sciences)


Grand Cross of the Order of Merits of the Federal Republic of Germany


Member of acatech (German Academy of Technology)


Hahn Prize of the University of Tübingen

Selected Invited Lectures

Several invited lectures at different SIAM conferences

GAMM annual meeting

NATO Research Institutes

DMV annual meeting

International Math. Progr. Symposia




Several offers from universities in Germany and North America.

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