To content
Department of Computer Science

History of the department

Following a decision by the state government in June 1962 to establish a technical university in Dortmund (from 1965: a university), the structural plans of the founding committee of the University of Dortmund in 1965 and 1967, respectively, initially provided for the classical engineering disciplines with a strong addition of economics and social sciences. Chairs relevant to computer science in these structural plans were the chair for "Communications Engineering and Data Processing" in the Electrical Engineering Department and the chair for "Instrumental Mathematics" in the Mathematics Department - the subject-related division happened at that time in departments, which later became "departments" and finally "faculties". The official foundation of the University of Dortmund took place on December 16, 1968.

Chronology of the founding

Only a short time after the founding of the University of Dortmund in 1968, an extremely stormy development began for the founding of a separate department for computer science and for a computer science degree program, which was decisively driven by a member of the University Senate, Professor Frank Münnich, Department of Economics. A March 31, 1969, memo from the university's extension staff first mentioned a computer science program with 35 beginning students and a final enrollment of 175. In response to a letter, the (then responsible) Ministry of Culture was informed on July 24, 1969, that three new departments, one of them Computer Science, were planned at the University of Dortmund. The structural concept foresaw 6 chairs for mathematical and electrotechnical basics (theory of mathematical machines, switching algebra, information theory, communications engineering) as well as application areas (symbolic languages, documentation, system analysis, cybernetics - simulation) with 35 first-year students and a final enrollment of 175 students. A computer science building was to be ready for occupancy in 1978. The founding committee was chaired by Professor Manfred Reimer, who was newly appointed to the Department of Mathematics. He also did everything in his power to promote the development of the Department of Computer Science and from that time on was the decisive force for its establishment, from the development of structural ideas to the filling of the first professorships. The structural plan III of the university then provided for 11 chairs of computer science. The classical fields of "algebraic structures", "analytic structures", "numerical algorithms", "automata theory", "formal languages", "operating systems", "programming systems", "control theory", "electronic circuit elements", "statistics (information theory)" and "simulation" were proposed as the subject areas of the chairs. Computer science was seen as an interdisciplinary discipline with strong interactions with the natural sciences, the engineering sciences and the economic and social sciences. After the filling of three professorships fulfilled the condition for the establishment of a department at the University during the 1972 summer semester, the Ministry of Science approved the establishment of the Department of Computer Science on September 25, 1972. The representatives for the 1st Departmental Assembly of Computer Science were elected in a plenary assembly on October 24, 1972 (Professors: Volker Claus, Bernd Reusch, Lutz Richter; wiss. Staff: Otthein Herzog, Arno Zeyn; students: Hans-Jürgen Kugler, Heinz Drews; 3 professors, 7 academic staff members and 58 students were eligible to vote). Staff and 58 students). The official founding date of the Department of Computer Science is November 8, 1972, when the constituent meeting of the Department Assembly took place with the election of Volker Claus as Dean and Bernd Reusch as Associate Dean. This marked the successful completion of the task of the founding committee chaired by Mr. Reimer, and the Department of Computer Science began to turn its own ideas of research and teaching into reality.

Appointment of Professors

The appointment of professors proved to be quite difficult in Dortmund for many years. This was especially true in the founding years. One of the most important reasons, apart from the competition for professors, was the structural situation of the newly founded University of Dortmund. In case of doubt, the new university was at a disadvantage if a scientist already had an alternative appointment at a renowned university with a long tradition or if an appointment was at least in prospect. Finally, the first three professors were appointed in the summer semester of 1972. The order of acceptance of the call was:

Prof. Dr. Lutz Richter for the chair of informatics III "Operating Systems" on June 20, 1972, Prof. Dr. Volker Claus for the chair of informatics II "Formal Languages and Fundamentals of Programming" on June 22, 1972, Prof. Dr. Bernd Reusch for the chair of informatics I "Automata Theory" on October 5, 1972.

The further appointments until 1976 are in the following order

Prof. Dr. Jörg Mühlbacher for "Data Structures, Information Systems" on November 28, 1973, Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter Ehrich for "Automata Theory" on March 1, 1974, Prof. Dr. Burkhard Monien for "Recursive Functions, Complexity Theory" on April 1, 1975, Prof. Dr. Heinz Beilner for the Chair of Computer Science IV ("Modeling, Performance Analysis of Computing Systems") on March 1, 1976, Prof. Dr. Claus Unger for "Operating Systems, Computer Network Systems" on September 20, 1976.

Structure of the Diploma Program in Computer Science

The program began in the winter semester of 1972/73. From the beginning, theory and practice were to be of equal value in the Computer Science program; therefore, a balanced offering of courses on the fundamentals of Computer Science and on applied Computer Science was planned. The subjects mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, other engineering sciences, statistics and economics were already available as minor subjects from the summer semester of 1973.

Courses offered

The first two courses were offered in the summer semester of 1972, before the department was officially founded. The lecture "Fundamentals of Programming Languages" (Claus) with exercises (Huwig) was attended by about 30 listeners, and 5 persons obtained a certificate in the exercises. In addition, a seminar on "Decidability" (Claus) was held. In the winter semester 1972/73 already 14 courses were offered, among them the lectures "Rechnerstrukturen" (Claus), "Betriebssysteme" (Richter), "Schaltwerke und Schaltkreise" (Reusch) and the first course according to a new concept, the "Projektgruppe", which had the title "LR(k)-Analysator" (Zumkeller, Claus). Also in the winter semester 1972/73, a course entitled "Recht der Informatik" (Law of Computer Science) on publishing and copyright law was held by Dr. Schwaiger with the aim of also addressing the legal consequences of computer science systems. At the same time, Prof. Steinmüller conducted a "Working Group on Legal Informatics". Thus, the relation of computer science to social developments has a long tradition in Dortmund. In the summer semester of 1973, 16 courses were offered, including "Programming" (Claus), "Data Structures" (Richter) and "Automata Theory" (Reusch). Already in the summer semester 1973 Volker Claus offered a course "Seminar for Teachers (Advanced Training in Computer Science)". Even after the founding phase at the beginning of the 1970s, the Computer Science Department at the University of Dortmund developed new concepts for the course. Dortmund's contributions to the development of teaching in German university computer science are multifaceted and, even in retrospect after 50 years, surprisingly up-to-date. Worth highlighting are: "project groups" as a form of teaching, the course of study "engineering informatics" (today: applied informatics), consideration of the "social references of informatics" in teaching, teacher training and continuing education.


Through these determinations, computer science at the University of Dortmund had a solid foundation on which it could steadily grow and flourish.