Krzysztof Apt studied mathematics in Wroclaw, Poland and got his PhD in mathematical logic in 1974, in Warsaw, Poland. "But the communism was not a very inspiring political system so already in the Fall of 1974 I voted with my feet and left the country for good", he explains. "It was not easy in those times of bipolar world to settle down abroad, but somehow I succeeded without giving up my interest in science. I learned computer science and more recently, game theory, so to say, 'on the street', which was possible because of my background in mathematics."
Currently, the main interest of Apt is game theory and mechanism design. These are two areas of theoretical economics but in the advent of internet economics they are nowadays also of relevance for computer science. "It is fascinating to see how quickly the borders between computer science and economics melt. Some articles can now be submitted either to a conference on Artificial Intelligence or electronic commerce, or to an economic journal. And some, like our recent work on distributed mechanism design, draw on ideas from both disciplines."
Apt is still interested in two areas of research in computer science in which he has been involved in the past twenty five years, namely program verification and constraint programming.
In the past 34 years Apt has worked in several countries, namely Poland, France, the U.S and Singapore. Even in the Netherlands he has worked at more places than most of his Dutch colleagues. From this perspective he thinks that CWI is a great place for doing research: "I have successfully resisted the temptations to move for good elsewhere. In particular, it has been easy for me, while working at CWI, to switch a couple of times my research subject. Such changes of subject can be very strenuous but in the end they are very rewarding." In particular the changes allowed him to write (so far) four books that are concerned with three different subjects in computer science. Krzysztof Apt: "I find writing books an excellent way to get a comprehensive view of a research area and I regret I started to write them only after I turned forty. It is also a non-trivial challenge: an article compares to a book as an aria compares to an opera."
Throughout his scientific career he has been very interested in the applications of mathematical logic in computer science. At a certain moment he came to the conclusion that this 'interface' deserves to be properly publicized. This eventually led to the creation in 2000 of the ACM Transactions on Computational Logic, of which Apt was the founder and the first Editor-in-Chief. The journal has been very successful. One of the reasons might be that its editorial board draws from scientists from both Europe and the U.S.
Apt believes that scientific initiatives should be based as much as possible on voluntary work so that they are free from any political and monetary pressures. "On a number of occasions I have campaigned that access to scientific publications should be free and wrote a couple of articles about it. During my tenure in the period 1997-2000, as the President of the Association for Logic Programming, I oversaw the complex transition of the Journal of Logic Programming from Elsevier to the much cheaper Theory and Practice of Logic Programming journal of Cambridge University Press. Our decision inspired others and was widely covered in the press, in particular The New York Times."
Krzysztof Apt is a member of the Advisory Board of the Computing Research Repository (CoRR), http://arxiv.org/corr, in which annually more than 2500 articles are posted. The main advantage of such a repository is that you can subscribe to selected sections of it, so that you can automatically get the listing of all new submissions. By now a couple of journals exist that are simply overlays over this repository, so naturally they are free, searchable and indexable. "Such open access journals should become prevalent in computer science", says Apt, "and each of us should do his or her best to promote such solutions. Society does not need to pay twice for the knowledge it generates."