There is magic in every beginning...and sometimes also in the end

There is magic in every beginning...and sometimes also in the end

KIT Department of Informatics bids farewell to Prof. Walter Tichy in retirement and welcomes his successor Prof. Ina Schaefer

The Gerhard Goos Lecture Hall in the Computer Science Building was just fitting for the nearly 120 visitors who had gathered at 4:30 p.m. on April 20, 2023, for the inaugural and farewell lectures of Ina Schaefer and Walter Tichy, respectively. The Gerhard Goos lecture hall was also fitting because it was precisely that computer science pioneer whom Walter Tichy had succeeded in 1986 at the University of Karlsruhe, today's KIT. Not entirely without reverence and respect for the size of his footsteps, as he himself reports. However, the fact that he was able to fill them without any problems in the course of the years was shown this evening by the eulogies of two colleagues who had also experienced Tichy as a doctoral supervisor or lecturer: Prof. Lutz Prechelt (FU Berlin) and Prof. Ralf Reussner (KIT). The numbers alone speak for themselves: more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, 16 scientific articles referenced more than 100 times (one cited an incredible 1494 times), PhD supervisor for 35 PhD students, of whom more than 1/3 took on a professorial career, or the founding or start-up support of 6 successful companies.

During his 36 years at the University of Karlsruhe (later KIT) and at the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, Walter Tichy never rested. Research stays regularly took him to renowned institutions around the world. Whether as a (vice-) dean, a dedicated university lecturer, or a thorough researcher, it was important to him to give his best and deliver quality in every field in which he was active. Teaching awards from the faculty, the title "Distinguished Scientist", from the world's largest computer science society ACM, an ACM Fellow (the first at KIT), or an IEEE MIP Award (Most Influential Paper Award) from the International Conference on Software Engineering testify to these efforts.

It is therefore not surprising that he spends his retirement not sitting at home on his patio, but rather "restlessly": In Kutaisi, Georgia, Tichy is helping to build a new university as a full professor and enjoying the new task. Always at his side his wife Ingrid, without whom, as he himself says, none of this would have been possible.

His footsteps seem large and difficult to fill at first glance. In her inaugural lecture, however, Professor Ina Schaefer shows that she and her team are ready to take on this succession and to conduct research at the highest level. In her work, the scientist, who previously worked at the TU Braunschweig, deals with concepts, methods and tools for the holistic development of trustworthy and secure software-intensive systems. This involves an engineering approach that specifies essential system properties as early as the development process so that they can be fulfilled by design during operation. At the same time, highly complex modern software systems must be continuously configurable and adaptable, and must also function reliably and securely. Safety and reliability are particularly important because Ina Schaefer's research focuses on the automotive and automation technology application areas, where the smallest errors can have serious consequences. In 2022, Schaefer will be elected chair of the expert group Transformation of the Automotive Industry under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). A few months ago, after only one year on the faculty, she also took over the office of Vice Dean for Young Scientists, and is thus helping to shape the future of computer science in Karlsruhe just as actively as her predecessor Walter Tichy once did.

And what about the magic of the beginning and perhaps also the end? After the ceremonial farewell of Professor Tichy and the introduction of Ina Schaefer, the audience experienced another performance of a special kind. Magician Serapion (alias Prof. Bernd Brügge, retired Prof. for Applied Software Engineering at TUM) made knots burst and cards appear, gave Walter Tichy a bar of chocolate and Ina Schaefer a skipping rope and thus provided a magical end to the event. The guests ended the evening with appetizers and drinks and animated conversations in the computer science library.

The KIT Faculty of Computer Science would also like to thank Walter Tichy for his many years of work and commitment to the interests of the subject, the students, and the university, and extends its warmest welcome to Ina Schaefer.

Impressions of the evening