Saarbrücken computer science pioneer Prof. Günter Hotz turns 90

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Prof. Günter Hotz after receiving the honorary senator title during the fiftieth anniversary of the Department of Computer Science on May 25, 2019. Photo: Oliver Dietze

On November 16, Günter Hotz, professor emeritus of applied mathematics and computer science, pioneer of computer science in Saarbrücken and honorary senator of Saarland University, will celebrate his 90th birthday. The jubilarian, who lives in St. Ingbert (Saarland), is considered one of the fathers of computer science in Germany. He was a member of the committee that gave the subject its name and drafted the first study regulations. He has been associated with Saarland University for almost six decades.

Born in Büdingen-Rommelhausen, Günter Hotz studied mathematics and physics at the universities of Frankfurt and Göttingen after graduating from high school in Friedberg. He then worked in industry, where he was involved in the development of postal check automation and the first computer-aided air traffic control system in the Federal Republic. In 1962, his career took him to the Saarbrücken Institute for Applied Mathematics, headed by Prof. Johannes Dörr. Thanks to his commitment, he created central conditions for the establishment of the Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz, DFKI) and the Leibniz Center for Computer Science, Schloss Dagstuhl, and thus contributed decisively to the profile of Saarland as a computer science location and its university.

The focus of his research activities included algorithmic geometry, the theory of formal languages, the development of programming languages to support language processing in the context of the Collaborative Research Center 100 “Electronic Language Processing”, and his involvement in the following Collaborative Research Centers.

As an academic teacher, Professor Hotz has supervised more than 50 dissertations. About 30 of his diploma students, doctoral students and co-workers were appointed to professorships at universities and universities of applied sciences. In the scientific community, Günter Hotz acted, among other things, as founding president of the German “Gesellschaft für Informatik ” (GI) and as a member of the Science Council and several scientific academies and societies. In 1986, he was the first scientist from the Federal Republic of Germany to be admitted to the Academy of Sciences of the GDR.

In addition, the jubilarian served as a reviewer for the German Research Foundation and as Dean of the Faculty of Technology at Saarland University. His services to computer science have been recognized by numerous national and international awards. For example, he was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Frankfurt, the Technical University of Darmstadt, the University of Tbilisi, and the University of Paderborn. In 1986, together with his colleagues Kurt Mehlhorn and Wolfgang Paul, he received the first Leibniz Prize awarded to computer scientists by the German Research Foundation.

The recipient of the Saarland Order of Merit and the Grand Federal Cross of Merit is also an honorary member of the “Gesellschaft für Informatik “, holder of the “Konrad Zuse Medal” and honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the “University of Aeronautics and Astronautics” in Beijing. Finally, the Günter-Hotz-Medal, with which the “Friends of Saarbrücken Computer Science e.V.” have been awarding the three best graduates of Saarbrücken Computer Science since 2001, as well as the large lecture hall of Saarbrücken Computer Science since 2011, bear his name. Saarland University, to which he always remained loyal despite honorary calls, also awarded the founder of Saarbücken of computer science the dignity of honorary senator during the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Department of Computer Science on May 25, 2019.

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