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Professor Wolfgang Wahlster Receives Honorary Doctorate from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oldenburg, Germany

| Press release | Awards | Berlin

Oldenburg, 14th of March 2022 Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, who was the CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) for over 20 years and is currently its chief executive advisor, was awarded his fifth honorary doctorate by the University of Oldenburg in Germany today.


University President Ralph Bruder (left) and Dean Rudolf Schröder (right) congratulated Wolfgang Wahlster on his honorary doctorate. Photo: Stephan Walzl, Theater Photographer, Oldenburg State Theater
University President Ralph Bruder (left) and Dean Rudolf Schröder (right) congratulated Wolfgang Wahlster on his honorary doctorate. Photo: Stephan Walzl, Theater Photographer, Oldenburg State Theater

Wahlster has had a significant impact on AI research over the past 45 years. "Professor Wahlster is undoubtedly one of the world's most renowned AI researchers in this field, with many high-impact international publications," Lower Saxony's Science Minister Björn Thümler said at the award ceremony. 

Professor Ralph Bruder, President of the University, emphasized, "I have known and appreciated Wolfgang Wahlster's foresight and expert advice for many years. For the university, he has been a reliable and important companion who, with a great deal of personal commitment, has continued to work hard for Oldenburg's computer science to this day." In Wahlster's honor and in recognition of his scientific achievements, the university had held a celebratory colloquium on human-oriented AI in the morning with high-profile speakers.

Through his commitment, Wolfgang Wahlster "has contributed significantly to the development of Oldenburg's computer science to its current size with 24 professorships, 1,500 students, and the affiliated research institutions DLR, DFKI and OFFIS," Professor Rudolf Schröder, Dean of Faculty II at the University of Oldenburg, quoted from the report of the award committee.

As early as the early 1980s, Wahlster was a member of a commission that developed the concept for the "Applied Computer Science" degree program at Oldenburg University. Since then, he has supported Oldenburg's computer science with dedication over a period of almost 40 years, the award committee emphasized.

Professor Sebastian Lehnhoff, Chairman of the Board of OFFIS, also expressed his gratitude. "Wahlster has been closely associated with the OFFIS computer science institute - the first Affiliated Institute of the University of Oldenburg - since its foundation in 1991. He has been a member of our institute's Scientific Advisory Board from its first meeting in 1992, with interruptions, to the present day, and has served as the board's chair for a long time."

Wahlster studied computer science and theoretical linguistics at the University of Hamburg, where he also earned his doctorate in 1981. He taught and conducted research at Saarland University as a professor of computer science from 1982 to 2018. The focus of his work was in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and computational linguistics. He was particularly concerned with topics such as user modeling, human-machine communication, and cognitive assistance systems. As founding director of DFKI and later as technical and scientific director as well as chairman of the management board, he expanded the research center from 1988 to 2019 to become the world's largest PPP research institution in this field. Together with Professor Henning Kagermann (Ex-CEO of SAP) and Professor Lukas (German Government) he coined the "Industie 4.0" concept for the 4th industrial revolution. In 2011, they published the first paper about Industrie 4.0.  In the meantime, Industry 4.0 has become a German export hit.  

Wahlster has been awarded many honors for his work at the national and international level. For example, he is a recipient of the German Future Prize and the Donald E. Walker  Award from IJCAII. He is a AAAI Fellow and a EurAI Fellow. In 2019, the German President awarded him the Grand Federal Cross of Merit. Wahlster holds already honorary doctorates from the universities of Linköping (Sweden), Darmstadt (Germany), Maastricht (Netherlands), and the Technical University of Prague (Czech Republic) and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina German National Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), and the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic (EACR).