Welcome to MESS 2024

Last Seats still available!!

Contact us to mess.school@ANTs-lab.it
for registration!

The 3rd international Metaheuristics Summer School – MESS 2024 – is aimed at qualified and strongly motivated MSc and PhD students; post-docs; young researchers, and both academic and industrial professionals to provide them with an overview on the metaheuristics techniques, and an in-depth analysis of the state-of-the-art. It is a full-immersion four-days course in the beautiful city of Catania whose goal is to offer all participants with a stimulating environment to study and learn advanced concepts and recent research in the fields of Metaheuristics, Optimization, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, in general.

The main theme of this third edition is focused on “Automated Deep Learning Meets High-Performance Computing”, that is how these research areas may interact and affect each other in order to develop reliable and robust solving methodologies for Big Data analysis, and data-driven problems.

The courses will be taught by world-renowned experts in the field and will involve a total of 36-40 hours of lectures, therefore according to the academic system, all PhD and master students attending the summer school will can get 8 ECTS points. To this end, during the school the students will tackle homework, and/or project development for final evaluation. Furthermore, during the four days, the participants will have plenty of opportunities to debate and work with leaders in the field, benefiting from direct interaction and discussions in a friendly environment.

MESS 2024 also offers the possibility to all attendants to present their recent results and/or their works in progress through interaction with their scientific peers, in a professional and constructive environment.

As carried out in the past editions, also in this edition all participants will be involved in the “Metaheuristics Competition Race”, where each of them, individually or divided in working groups (no more than 3 people), will develop a metaheuristic solution for a given problem presented during the school. The top three of the competition ranking will receive the MESS 2024 award and will be involved in the writing of a manuscript dedicated to the competition that, afterwards, will be submitted to an international journal for possible publication. In addition, the remaining best ten in the ranking (excluding the top three, of course) will be invited to report their work in a manuscript which will be published in the special MESS 2024 Volume of the AIRO Springer Series.

See the publications of the previous Metaheuristics Competitions:

  • MESS 2020+1 Metaheuristics Competition [link];
  • MESS 2018 Metaheuristics Competition [link].





April 29, 2024: due to local problems the notification and registration deadlines have been postponed. Have a look to the new deadlines.

December 1, 2023: Prof. Thomas Bartz-Beielstein confirmed Speaker.

November 5, 2023: Prof. Aaron Klein confirmed Speaker.

September 6, 2023: the application deadline has been fixed to 16th March 2024.





Thomas Bartz-Beielstein

TH Köln, Germany

Aaron Klein

AWS Research Berlin, Germany

Eric Medvet

University of Trieste, Italy


David Salinas

University of Freiburg, Germany

El-Ghazali Talbi

University of Lille 1, France








Thomas Bartz-Beielstein


Lecture 1

Introduction to Surrogate-Based Hyperparameter Tuning in Classical Machine Learning, Online Machine Learning, and Deep Learning


Lecture 2

Exploring Hyperparameter-Tuning Applications:
Optimizing scikit-learn, River, and PyTorch with SPOT and Other Tuning Techniques

Aaron Klein


Lecture 1

Introduction into AutoML:
Hyperparameter Optimization



Lecture 2

Introduction into AutoML:
Neural Architecture Search


Eric Medvet


Lecture 1

Metaheuristics for policy search in continuous control



Lecture 2

Beyond policy search: optimizing body and brain of simulated robotic agents

David Salinas


Lecture 1

Multi-objective optimization


Lecture 2

Speeding-up Hyperparameter Optimization with transfer and meta learning

El-Ghazali Talbi


Lecture 1

Metaheurististics for neural architecture search and hyperparameter optimization


Lecture 2

Parallel and multi-objective metaheuristics for neural architecture search and hyperparameter optimization



Scientific Program






Important Dates

Application Deadline: April 16, 2024

Notification of acceptance: May 5, 2024

Early Registration: by May 20, 2024

Late Registration: from May 21, 2024





MESS 2024 is addressed to motivated, qualified, and pre-selected candidates interested in the topics proposed by the school. Thus PhD students; Post-Docs; and young researchers (both academic and industrial) as well as advanced graduate and undergraduate students are welcomed and encouraged to apply.

Applications to attend MESS 2024 must be received before 16th April 2024 filling the module below. All accepted applicants will be notified by 25th April 2024 in accordance with the application time.



   Early registration (by May 20, 2024): € 550;
   Late registration (from May 21, 2024): € 700.


The registration fee covers, respectively:

  • all course sessions,
  • lesson materials,
  • oral presentations,
  • all scientific activities,
  • coffee breaks,
  • welcome party,
  • guided tour,
  • social dinner,
  • workshop,
  • VAT.

Note that extra costs for bank wire transfers or credit card service are not covered by the school.

Those who would like to give an oral presentation on their recent results, or works in progress may include Title and Abstract in the relative application section.



Application Form


Oral Presentation:

Consent: please review the italicized text below and then click the checkbox to indicate your consent:

“As the submitting author, I attest the integrity of the data and experimental methodologies used. I have given all abstract authors the appropriate credit and secured the necessary permission from the institution(s) and authors listed.

I grant MESS 2024 the right to publish my abstract on their website and secure mobile app, which are provided to registered attendees, and after the conference, make my abstract available by other interested persons.”




Oral Presentation

The Metaheuristics Summer School aims to provide a stimulating environment for all participants, where they may interact and exchange ideas with their scientific peers in a friendly and constructive way. To this end to all participants are offered the opportunity to present their research activities on the Metaheuristics by an oral presentation.

During the application, all participants, by filling the relative section, may submit an abstract of their recent results, or works in progress, to be presented in a dedicated session as an oral presentation. The abstract must be submitted before March 16, and must be written in English. Each abstract will be reviewed by the Workshop Chairs and/or Scientific Committee. All abstracts, in any format, will be included in an electronic book of MESS 2024, which will be both put online on the website and provided to all participants during the school.


For more information send an email to: mess.school @ ANTs-lab.it





Salvatore Greco

University of Catania, Italy

Mario Pavone

University of Catania, Italy

Andrea Schaerf

University of Udine, Italy



El-Ghazali Talbi

University of Lille 1, France

Daniele Vigo

University of Bologna, Italy







Metaheuristics Competition Chairs


Raffaele Cerulli

University of Salerno, Italy

Sara Ceschia

University of Udine, Italy



Carmine Cerrone

University of Genoa, Italy

Andrea Schaerf

University of Udine, Italy




Local Organizing Committee

Vincenzo Cutello (Chair), University of Catania, Italy
Claudia Cavallaro, University of Catania, Italy
Carolina Crespi, University of Catania, Italy
Angelo Cavallaro, University of Catania, Italy
Angela Pappalardo, ANTs Research Laboratory, Italy
Antonino Di Stefano, ANTs Research Laboratory, Italy
Alessandro Vitale, ANTs Research Laboratory, Italy
Alessio Mezzina, University of Catania, Italy
Attilio Di Natale, University of Catania, Italy

Publicity Chair

Francesco Zito, University of Catania, Italy
Stephan Petrone, ANTs research laboratory, Italy


Sponsorship & Patronage














MESS 2024 will take place at the Department of Economics and Business of the University of Catania. The Department is located in the Palazzo delle Scienze, a beautiful and historical building situated in the city center, in Corso Italia 55.


Department of Economics and Business

Palazzo delle Scienze

Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy







Catania is an ancient port city on Sicily’s east coast. It sits at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano with trails leading up to the summit. The city’s wide central square, Piazza del Duomo, features the whimsical Fontana dell’Elefante statue and the richly decorated Catania Cathedral. In the southwest corner of the square, La Pescheria (a weekday fish market) is a rowdy spectacle surrounded by seafood restaurants.

It is a modern, sparkling city, always full of vitality; indeed it is recognized as the liveliest city in Sicily. The black and white of its buildings contrasts with the blue of the sky and sea; and at night, its squares and avenues are populated with young people who love to have fun in the hundreds of clubs that fill the historic center.

Catania offers a wide choice of accommodation from small family-run guest houses to traditional B&Bs; from Vacation Rentals to modern Hotels. Here you can also find a broad selection of excellent restaurants and cosy trattorias where you can taste the genuine, true flavours of the authentic sicilian cuisine.





Contact US

ANTs Research Laboratory

+39 338 4342147
Eng. Angela Pappalardo
via SS. Crocifisso 66
I-95024, Acireale (CT), Italy

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