At core of software leader SAP's product, an open source code developed at KTH

Computer Science Professor Christian Schulte's Gecode configuration engine is at the core of one of software leader SAP's leading products. (Photo: David Callahan)
Published Jan 03, 2019

Open source software developed at KTH is at the core of a business system from German software giant SAP. The system S/4HANA has nearly 400,000 customers, who are influenced on a daily basis by KTH professor, Christian Schulte and his colleagues.

"What's amazing here is that SAP replaces self-developed software with open source-based software developed at KTH. It is an expression of great faith in what we do here at the university,” says Schulte, Professor of Computer Science  at KTH.

Schulte has been the lead person in charge of the development of Gecode , a configuration engine which SAP now uses as its most profitable product.

Configuration engines are tools used to determine how a product should be assembled. Consumers experience their usefulness when they use an automaker’s website to digitally customize the car they want, or purchase a vacation with flights, rental cars and hotels included.

For SAP’s customers, it’s about the company’s popular business system with its variety of components.

The configuration engine's role is also to keep track of a range of values, how these are combined, and to ensure that no value is exceeded in any way. The engine uses artificial intelligence techniques provided by the Gecode to ensure that different combinations are valid and that restrictions are not exceeded. This is important in, for example, business systems such as SAP S/4HANA. The configuration engine also has the task of graphically illustrating complex products and connections.

On the question of why SAP chose to collaborate with KTH and Schulte, he answers that openness in Gecode probably played a role.

”The software is free, but is also very well documented. It has the reputation of being effective, and has been in existence for more than 10 years. It’s important that Gecode has been around for over a decade because before a company like SAP dares to invest in something, they must know that it has a durability.”

Schulte is one of the professors with the Castor research center  for software development, a collaboration between KTH, Saab and Ericsson.

Peter Ardell

Gecode website

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Last changed: Jan 03, 2019