Millions awarded to new research into flourishing creativity in the Dutch Golden Age

Judith Leyster, Zelfportret achter ezel, ca. 1633. Bron: Wikimedia Commons
Judith Leyster, Self-Portrait (c. 1633). Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch Golden Age’s paintings, books, ceramics etc. still fascinate millions of people, but how did these creative outbursts emerge? In the ‘Golden Agents’ Research Infrastructure, so-called computer agents ingeniously connect existing and new databases to facilitate interdisciplinary research that unravels the inner dynamics of this creative miracle.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a subsidy of 3.6 million euros to Oscar Gelderblom, Wijnand MijnhardtMaarten Prak and Els Stronks (Humanities) and Mehdi Dastani (Information and Computing Sciences) in collaboration with researchers from Huygens ING, University of Amsterdam, Free University Amsterdam, City Archives Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum and RKD. The subsidy for ‘Golden Agents: Creative Industries and the Making of the Dutch Golden Age’ was awarded within the ‘NWO Investment Grant Large’ (‘NWO-groot’) funding programme.

Combining databases

The innovative approach followed in this project integrates various technologies from multi-agent systems and the Semantic Web to analyze, fetch, filter, merge and update information that is scattered over the various heterogeneous databases. This is done by developing computer agents that are able to 1) reason about, maintain, and fetch data from their associated databases that are described using specific ontologies, and 2) communicate and collaborate to analyze and answer user queries based on a shared ontology.

Innovative research infrastructures

NWO has awarded seven proposals for innovative equipment and data collections in this round of ‘NWO Investment Grant Large’. The objective of this funding programme is to encourage investments in scientific equipment or data collections of national and international importance. A total sum of 33 million euros is invested by NWO, research institutes and private partners in this round.