In memoriam Rolf Würtz

We mourn the loss of Rolf Würtz, our colleague and friend, who directed the research group Organic Computing at the INI. Early on Saturday, December 1, 2018, Rolf succumbed to an intense illness that cut his life short. 

Rolf had been a member of the INI for over two decades. He studied mathematics in Heidelberg, spent two years at the Max Planck Institut for Brain Research in Frankfurt before joining the INI in 1990, where he obtained his doctorate in Physics under the guidance of Professor von der Malsburg. After a two-year postdoc at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Groningen, he re-joined the INI as a faculty member in 1997. Rolf was a Privatdozent of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, a faculty member of the International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN) at RUB, and a driving force behind the inter-faculty degree program Angewandte Informatik (AI).

Rolf’s research focused on neural methods in computer vision, in particular, for object and face recognition. He was also interested in more general questions of self-organization in distributed intelligent systems and engaged in applying neurally inspired technology in collaboration with medical researchers and with partners from industry. He advised a number of doctoral students in these areas. 

Rolf was a very engaged teacher, whose course on Artificial Neural Networks was the entry portal to neural computation for students from many different degree programs. He supervised a record number of Master- and Bachelor thesis projects, organized study groups, and taught two seminars every semester that provided the first contact with original research publications for many students.

Rolf’s unhesitating willingness to take on responsibility made him a much sought after member of committees. He supported the administration of the INI as deputy director, was an engaged member of the study commission of the IGSN, and played an important role in managing the AI program.

We will miss Rolf intensely. Our thoughts go to his family. 


Wir werden Rolf am 19. Dezember 2018 ab 12 Uhr 30 bis ca. 14 Uhr in einer kleinen Feier gedenken. Die Gedenkstunde findet im Veranstaltungszentrum der Ruhr-Universität statt, also im Gebäude der Mensa der RUB auf der Ebene 04, Saal 1. 

Wir haben eine Reihe von Freunden und Kollegen von Rolf gebeten, in kurzen Ansprachen, verschiedene Aspekte von Rolfs Leben und Wirken zu beleuchten. Einige kurze musikalische Einlagen begleiten das Programm. Im Anschluss gibt es ein paar Happen zu Essen und Gelegenheit zum Austausch unter den Gästen.

The Institut für Neuroinformatik (INI) is a central research unit of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. We aim to understand the fundamental principles through which organisms generate behavior and cognition while linked to their environments through sensory systems and while acting in those environments through effector systems. Inspired by our insights into such natural cognitive systems, we seek new solutions to problems of information processing in artificial cognitive systems. We draw from a variety of disciplines that include experimental approaches from psychology and neurophysiology as well as theoretical approaches from physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and applied computer science, in particular machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision.

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