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Università della Svizzera Italiana

Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI), located in the city of Lugano in the southern canton Ticino is a young and dynamic academic environment adhering to the highest standards of the Swiss university system. The Faculty of Informatics, founded in 2005, stands out as a center of competence in advanced computer science research. In a matter of very few years, it has become one of Switzerland's major poles for teaching and research, ranking third after the two Federal Institutes of Technology (ETHZ and EPFL).

Lugano and Ticino

Lugano is a city in the south of Switzerland, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy. Lugano is Switzerland's third economic center (after Zurich and Geneva). The town lies in a bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano, surrounded by numerous mountains offering splendid viewpoints. Lugano boasts a traffic-free historic town centre with Mediterranean-style squares, arcades, and numerous parks, exclusive museums, and a packed calendar of events. Thanks to its mild climate and warm summers and the fact that in recent years it has attracted an ever growing number of celebrities have given Lugano the nickname of the "Monte Carlo of Switzerland". The two closest mountains to Lugano, Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè offer long hike and bike trails with an outstanding panorama of the town, Lake Lugano, small picturesque villages, and the alpine scenery. Another attraction in Ticino within reach from Lugano is the UNESCO heritage historic city of Bellinzona famous for its medieval castles. In the winter, the world-famous ski resorts in St. Moritz and in the nearby Italian mountains are within reach of a few hours of driving. Being strategically located in the heart of Europe, Lugano is within short reach by car or train from major cities such as Milan and Zurich. Other European destinations are conveniently accessible by low-cost flights from multiple nearby airports.


Switzerland is the land of superlatives, leading the world in science, Nobel Prizes, patents, publications, citations, quality of life, competitiveness, happiness, many sports, just to mention a few.

Switzerland has one of the world's highest GDP per capita and tops the overall ranking in global competitiveness 1 and the list of happiest countries 2. Three of the world's top ten most livable cities are located in Switzerland 3.

In the scientific realm, Switzerland boasts the highest number of patents per capita 4, the world's highest number of scientific publications per capita, the most citations per capita (numbers for physics: Switzerland 40.5, Israel 21.0, Sweden 16.4, Germany 13.3, UK 9.5, US 8.8)5, the most publications per scientist (Switzerland 14.3, UK 12.2, US 11.2), the most citations per scientist (Switzerland 196.4, US 146.0, UK 140.7, Holland 130.3)6, the world's highest per capita R&D expenditure 4, and the highest number of Nobel Prizes per capita 7. A Swiss has the most cited single-author paper ever (over 200000 citations)8.

Swiss-made inventions and discoveries with world-wide impact include graph theory (Euler, 1707-1783), logarithm tables (Bürgi, 1588-1610), the first technical journal (Scheuchzer, 1705), calculus of variation calculus and probability theory (Bernoulli, 1713), the electrostatic telegraph (Lesage, 1774), photosynthesis analysis (Senebier, 1788), the internal combustion engine (de Rivaz, 1807), the first multinational enterprise (Fischer, 1833), cough pills (Wybert, 1846), the Red Cross (Dunant, 1864), the copying machine (Fuerrer, 1902), the origins of intelligence in children (Piaget, 1936), the drug LSD (Hofmann, 1938), artificial hip joints (Müller, 1960), electronic watches (Accutron, 1959), the electric toothbrush (Tavaro, 1960), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (Ernst, 1966), the quartz watch (Centre Electronique Horologer, 1967), the Pascal programming language (Wirth, 1968), high temperature superconductors (Müller, 1986), the first planet orbiting another star (Mayor & Queloz, 1995), Tamiflu (Roche, 1999), the first wildly successful cancer drug Gleevec (Novartis, 1990s), the first human stratosphere flight (A. Piccard, 1931), the first and only trip ever to the ocean's deepest point (J. Piccard, 1960), the first balloon trip around the world (B. Piccard, 1999), and many, many more. Switzerland is the birth place of the World Wide Web and the home to the Large Hadron Collider, as of today the biggest and most expensive scientific machine ever built.

1World Economic Forum.. 2Happiness Foundation (1990s average). 32010 Mercer survey. 4World Competitiveness Report. 5Thompson-Reuters 2009. 6Reckling 2007, UNESCO database. 7Ignoring statistical outliers St. Lucia and Iceland (each with a single laureate), Switzerland is the only country with nearly 3 Nobel Prizes per million capita (properly taking into account that most laureates get only 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 of the prize). 8U. K. Laemmli, Nature 227, 680 - 685 (15 August 1970). Summary credit and copyright: Prof. Jürgen Schmidhuber, full version available here