Interview with Dr. Ercan Sönmez

June 6, 2023

Portraits in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Stuttgart

What are the duties of a substitute professor?

In principle, you take over the duties (and rights) of a regular professor in teaching, which are pending, due to a currently vacant position and the resulting need. In addition, such a position is very well suited for further qualification, and to get a little air for the possible everyday work as a professor.

What are the requirements for the position?

In addition to some formal criteria that are usually listed in job advertisements, such as a special aptitude for scientific work, proven by a doctorate and/or achievements equivalent to a habilitation, one should in particular have experience in independent teaching, ideally proven by positive teaching evaluations. In the scientific career, one should be sufficiently advanced after the doctorate, which can also be demonstrated by the fact that one has developed an independent research profile. This includes, among other things, national and international research collaborations.

What previous teaching experience do you have?

Prior to my current position, I have mainly taught statistics to undergraduates as a minor subject at the university, in addition to bachelor and master lectures for mathematics students. I typically take a different approach to lectures as a minor and lectures in mathematics. Especially in service teaching it is important for me to, among other things, now and then "get away" from the results-oriented work in undergraduate courses and to convey on a natural level to the students what we are doing, why the knowledge imparted can be useful, where it can be used, the relevance of the subject area, e.g. by including (up-to-date) case studies.

What is your research profile, and how would you summarize your research in simple words?

I mainly work in two modern topics in stochastics, the theory of random graphs and stochastic differential equations. Random graphs are stochastic models of networks of all kinds, e.g. social networks like Facebook, Instagram etc., or virus infection chains. An interesting observation here is the "small world" phenomenon, small-world phenomenon, originates from a social experiment by S. Milgram, which led to the realization that any two people are on average "connected" through a chain of about 6 other people, e.g. 6 acquaintances (friends) of acquaintances (friends), 6 handshakes, etc. This can explain why, for example, viruses can become a global problem. The theory of random graphs is largely devoted to research on mathematical structures to models. Among other things, I am concerned with the extreme value analysis of such models, i.e., I am interested in certain "extreme" properties and how such properties can be used to understand the models and illuminate them from a different perspective. Stochastic differential equations, on the other hand, are extensions of ordinary differential equations, in particular equations that one wants to "solve". There are different terms for solutions, which are in principle stochastic processes. The application areas are very broad, one models numerous time-dependent processes with it. Again, I am devoted to basic research and am interested in existence and uniqueness issues as well as regularity properties of solutions to equations when the underlying stochastic component is a mixture of two processes with different properties.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Dr. Ercan Sönmez
Substitute Professor
Institute for Stochastics and Applications

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