Heikki Mannila received his Ph.D. in computer science in 1985 from the University of Helsinki. After some time at the University of Tampere and various researcher positions, in 1989 he was appointed a professor of computer science at the University of Helsinki. He was a visiting professor in the Technical University of Vienna in 1993 and a visiting researcher at Max Planck Institute for Computer Science in Saarbruecken in 1995-96. He moved to Microsoft Research in Redmond in 1998, came back to Finland to Nokia Research in 1999, where he stayed until the end of 2001. Since 1999 he is a professor of computer science at Helsinki University of Technology (currently Aalto University). In 2004-2008 he was an academy professor.
In 2009-2012 he was vice president for academic affairs and deputy president at Aalto University, a new university formed by the merger of Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, and University of Art and Design Helsinki.
In 2012 Heikki Mannila was appointed the president of the Academy of Finland – the Finnish Research Council, which funds scientific research in all disciplines through open calls and international peer review. It handles about 4000 applications per year, of which approximately 15 % are funded. The budget of the Academy of Finland is over 400 million euros. In 2017 Heikki Mannila was appointed for a second five-year term as the president of the Academy of Finland.
Heikki Mannila is the author of two books and over 190 refereed articles in computer science and related areas. His specific area of interest is in algorithms for data analysis, and applications in science and in industry. The book ”Principles of Data Mining”, with David Hand and Padhraic Smyth, is available also in Chinese and in Polish. He received the ACM SIGKDD Innovation award in 2003 and the IEEE ICDM research contributions award in 2009.