It is the sad duty of IFIP TC6 (Communication Systems) to inform the community that Professor Otto Spaniol passed away on 10th December 2024 after a period of illness. We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing.

Otto was a mathematician and physician from Saarland University, Germany, by training and completed his studies with a doctorate. After taking up a teaching position at Saarland University as an Assistant Professor, he moved to the University of Bonn between 1976 and 1981, when he accepted an appointment to the Chair of Operating Systems at the University of Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Then in 1984, Otto was appointed Full Professor at RWTH Aachen, Germany, where he founded the “Communication and Distributed Systems” team. He served with an immense scientific and teaching activity throughout all these years and his PhD students and research members have taken up many positions in academia and industry, becoming well integrated in various leading roles. Otto retired formally on 1st August 2010.

Otto was an active member of a multitude of organisations. Within those, IFIP played an important role since he chaired TC6 from 1992-1997 and again from 2004-2006. His involvement with IFIP as the formal German representative in TC6 started around 1982 and lasted until 2017 – for 35 years! Additionally, close to his retirement he successfully ran TC6’s flagship conference, IFIP Networking 2009, in Aachen, Germany.

At RWTH Aachen, Otto established and led the first ever German Research Training Group, termed “Graduiertenkolleg”, on “Computer Science and Technology” between 1991 and 2000 and continued to guide his successor on “Software for Communication Systems” (2000-2010). Furthermore, Otto became a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Schloss Dagstuhl, the Leibniz Center for Informatics, Germany. Otto was appointed the chairman of the DFG’s Review Board for Computer Science (German Research Association) 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” (KuVS), where he was named its honorary chairman in 2010. Already in 2008 and especially in recognition of both his scientific achievements and his honorary engagement Otto was appointed a GI Fellow. Additionally, he received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

We will always remember that Otto had a special talent for writing humorous poems and reciting them during the TC6 meetings. He was writing under the pseudonym of Alois Potton, where he highlighted “The Abysses of Computer Science”, a book published by Springer in German, and he was long-standing author of “Alois Potton hat das Wort” (It’s Now Alois Potton’s Floor) with the German IT processing and networking journal PIK (Praxis der Informationsverarbeitung und Kommunikation). Otto has written so many humorous perspectives on Computer Science, university procedures and academia that it had been always considered fun to listen to him and people return home with appreciation.

Otto was not just a colleague – he was a true companion whose presence brought precision, warmth, and forward-looking insights into our lives. TC6 and very many colleagues will remember Otto as an honest, kind, highly skilled, and dedicated member of the community. He shared many original ideas, wit, humour and lived with fun! Otto always spoke his mind honestly, generating controversial discussions and at the same time he was always supportive in all possible dimensions.

The moments with him were priceless treasures. We will miss him. 

Burkhard Stiller
IFIP TC6 Chair