The Department of Computer Science and the Chair for Communication and Distrubuted Systems mourns for its member Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Otto Spaniol, the founder of the Chair 'Informatik 4'. He passed away on 10 December, after a lengthy period of illness.

Otto held the Chair for 'Communication and Distributed Systems' for 26 years, from 1984 - 2010. Prior to this appointment he had held assistant/associate/full professorship positions at the universities of Saarbrücken, Bonn and Frankfurt, respectively.

At RWTH, he established and led the first Research Training Group ('Graduiertenkolleg') in Computer Science on 'Computer Science and Technology; 1991 - 2000), as well as its successor 'Software for Communication Systems' (2000 - 2010). As a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Schloss Dagstuhl, the Leibniz Center for Informatics, he championed these groups for decades and initiated their annual meeting there. He was also the 'spiritus rector' of the highly successful Cluster of Excellence 'UMIC', the 'inventor' of the 'Forum Informatik' (a predecessor of RWTH's Profile Areas) and founder of the regional industry association REGINA.

At the national level, he had served as Chairman of the DFG's (German Research Association) Review Board for Computer Science for the maximum possible period of eight years. He was also co-founder of the German Computer Science Society's (GI) Special Interest Group on 'Communication and Distributed Systems' (and was named its honorary chairman in 2010). In recognition of both his scientific achievements and his honorary engagement his was made a GI-Fellow in 2008.

Internationally, Otto had been the German representative to IFIP's (International Federation for Information Processing, the umbrella organisation of national Computer Science societies) TC 6, 'Communication Systems', since 1983. He chaired this TC for more than seven years.

The not quite so dead-serious aspects of science - and its many controversies - were also dear to Otto. For a number of years he had toured the region to participate in Science- and Poetry-Slams. Writing as Alois Potton, he highlighted 'The Abysses of Computer Science' (book published by Springer; in German). He also organised the first (and so far only) conference on 'Humour in Computer Science'.

The Department looses a long-time researcher, colleague and friend. He would have turned 80 in 2025.

Our condolences go out to his family, especially to his wife Renate and his son Marc.


Your colleagues and the current staff and the alumni of the Chair 'Informatik 4'

Book of Mourning (in German)

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