Note: This is an archvied version of our old webpage. Some links might be broken. The current one can be found here.
I7 Logo
Chair for Foundations of Software Reliability and Theoretical Computer Science
Informatik Logo TUM Logo
Obituary Prof. Brauer

Wilfried Brauer was born in 1937 in Berlin. He studied Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy at the Free University of Berlin, and received a PhD in 1966 from the University of Bonn. Between 1967 and 1970 he taught some of the first Computer Science courses in Germany, and wrote together with Klaus Indermark the first German Computer Science textbook. After his Habilitation in 1970, also at the University of Bonn, he was appointed the first professor in Computer Science at the University of Hamburg in 1971. In 1985 he became the first holder of the Chair of Theoretical Computer Science and Foundations of Artificial Intelligence of the Technische Universität München

Wilfried Brauer was one of the first authors in the emerging field of Theoretical Computer Science in the 1960s and early 1970s. During the 70s he contributed to the theory of finite automata, with publications about the transition monoid, the cascade decomposition, and the theory of automata over arbitrary monoids. This work is documented in his 1984 monograph on automata theory. Since the late 70s Brauer became interested in the theory of distributed systems, in particular the theory of Petri nets and process algebras. In the 90s he worked intensely on the foundations of Artificial Intelligence, with numerous contributions to the theory of neural networks and multiagent systems.

Always in collaboration with his wife Ute, Wilfried Brauer decisively contributed to shaping, structuring, and expanding the TCS community, particularly in Europe. He was vice-president of the European Association of Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) from 1985 to 1994, and president of the same society from 1994 to 1997. Together with his wife he wrote the Silver Jubilee article on the history of EATCS that can still be found at the home page of the organization. He also played an equally important role in the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), of which he was vice-president from 1994 to 1999. In Germany, Wilfried Brauer was president of the German Society for Informatics, the main German professional organization in Computer Science, from 1977 to 1979.

Wilfried Brauer was also very active as editor of journals and book series. In 1983 he became, together with G. Rozenberg and A. Salomaa, one of the founding editors of the EATCS Series of Monographs in Theoretical Computer Science. The series has published 57 volumes in all areas of Theoretical Computer Science, including many classic texts. In 1978 he became the first Editor in Chief of Informatik Spektrum, the main periodical of the German Society for Informatics. He stayed in this post until 1998. He co-authored a UNESCO-IFIP curriculum, which was translated into several languages, and in Germany he co-authored the "Studien- und Forschungsführer Informatik", a guide to Computer Science studies that very much contributed to establishing Computer Science as a discipline.

Already in the 70s, Ute and Wilfried Brauer argued that proper general education has to incorporate basic notions of Computer Science. In their influential publication "Informatics in School – Why and How?" (in German), they presented a vision of computer science education that is still relevant and suitable today. In 1989 Wilfried Brauer organized the first congress on Computer Science Education in Germany. More recently he substantially influenced the introduction of Computer Science as a subject in Bavarian high schools.

Wilfried Brauer received numerous awards for his achievements, including honorary doctorates from the Free University of Berlin and the University of Hamburg, the honorary membership of the German Society for Informatics, the first Fellowship of the University of Bremen, the IFIP Silver Core, the Werner Heisenberg Medal of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, the IFIP Isaac L. Auerbach Award, and, posthumously, one of the first Fellowships of the EATCS. He was a regular member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and the Humanities since 1996, and member of acatech, the technical division of the German Academy of Science.

Wolfgang Wahlster, former PhD student of Wilfried Brauer and a leading German computer scientist, described him in these words: "a cultivated and worldly man, a patient listener that approaches people with wit and humour [...] He combines in his person the archetypes of the German public servant and the English gentleman."

He will be very missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his wife and closest collaborator Ute Brauer.

Javier Esparza