31 May 2016 Delft - On May 31, 2016, VORtech celebrated its 20th anniversary with an event in the Meisjeshuis in Delft. VORtech Computing specializes in scientific software development, combining thorough knowledge of mathematical modelling, simulation and computer science with state of the art software development methods. Under the theme "Models and Data, hindsight and forecast" VORtech explored the intersections of predicting with physical models and with data. There were contributions by Arthur Veldman, professor in Computational Modelling at the University of Groningen, and by Geurt Jongbloed, professor in Mathematical Statistics at the Delft University of Technology. Afterwards, during the celebration drinks in the hall and on the terrace of the Meisjeshuis, Primeur Magazine had the opportunity to talk with Mark Roest and Edwin Vollebregt, the two founders of VORtech Computing. Edwin Vollebregt, the V from VORtech, studied applied mathematics at the Technical University of Delft. Mark Roest, the R from VORtech, has a background in physics. He is now the general manager of VORtech.
Primeur Magazine:When VORtech started 20 years ago, what was the idea behind it?
Edwin Vollebregt:We both did a PhD on coastal engineering, performing simulations, and making simulations faster using parallel computing. We enjoyed it very much to have a practical, result-oriented work on a high technological level and we thought: "Let's see if we can make a business out of this, so we started from this simple idea."
Mark Roest:Over time, we have grown. VORtech now consists of 25 people. Most of them have a background in mathematics and most of them also have a PhD, so we are really the clever guys now.
Primeur Magazine:Basically, what you do is modelling of scientific and engineering issues?
Mark Roest:The main part of what VORtech does, is designing different software engineering. VORtech develops computational software. There is a lot of mathematics behind this kind of software, which is something that VORtech staff likes to do.
Primeur Magazine:Can you give an example?
Edwin Vollebregt:VORtech performs water flows, traditionally an important topic, seismic data processing, traffic flows. I am involved in real rail contact analysis, very detailed studies of friction and wear. These are a lot of technical issues but nowadays there is also financial mathematics, a lot of calculations for pensions or insurances, also involving mathematics and large scale computing.
Primeur Magazine:Things have changed. Twenty years ago, nobody was talking about Big Data. Today, everybody is talking about Big Data and modelling the Big Data. You get anything out of it, if you go into it. You just solve the data and the answer will come. Is VORtech still needed in this area?
Mark Roest:We hope so, of course. We are following these developments and they are very interesting. Initially, we had no confidence in this Big Data evolution but meanwhile, we have seen quite some impressive results. We now feel it is complementary to the work that we have been doing. Some things can be done better and some things can not be done. Today, we had a few very interesting talks, showing that you also need some physical intuition before you can interpret Big Data. The two go hand in hand.
Edwin Vollebregt:It is very difficult to tell. If you look back 20 years and look at how we programmed computing software in those days and how we are programming today, it's totally unrecognizable. There are so many big changes in the scale of programming that we can do. If you extrapolate, it is unimaginable what we can do in 20 years.
Mark Roest:My feeling is that mathematics, computing and Big Data is becoming ever more important. I think that we will have far more work in the future than we had before, so I see quite a bright future for us.
Primeur Magazine:Thank you very much for this interview.