TUM Emeritus of Excellence Manfred Broy

“I want to implement digital technology in a socially responsible way”

Already in school maths came easy to TUM Alumni Manfred Broy and he enjoyed it a lot. He turned his fondness for formalisation into his profession and is now one of the most cited computer scientists worldwide.

When Manfred Broy started to do it, programming was still a subject matter for a mere handful of specialists. In the course of the spread of digitalisation Computer Science has nowadays become a crucial discipline in management and information. “For almost half a century I was fortunate enough to experience the development of Computer Sciences – which today permeates all spheres of life, its ever-growing importance and continuously expanding areas of application.”

I witnessed and helped shape the explosion of a discipline.

Manfred Broy stayed at TUM during his education: he got his degree in mathematics in 1976, did his excellent doctorate degree and finally the habilitation. After being a professor at the Universität Passau he returned to TUM where he held a professorship in Computer Sciences and became the founding dean of the Faculty of Computer Sciences. Not least his research at TUM contributed to the strong impetus for the digital development of Bavaria coming from Munich. In numerous projects he was able to transfer the software systems he developed on the basis of mathematical and logical methods into practical applications, for example in the areas of telecommunications, avionics, automotive engineering and banking.

Turning a Calling Into a Career

Mathematics and especially its inherent degree of precision has been fascinating for Manfred Broy as early as in school. “It was only much later that I realized that the fondness for truly wanting to permeate a subject matter, ultimately to formalise it, and my talent for doing just that, is at the core of software development.” As it were, Manfred Broy turned his calling into a career and his passion for precise conceptualisation and definitional accuracy allows him to approach one of the main challenges in writing complex software programmes with ease.

For Manfred Broy it gets especially interesting when the objective is to represent the “real” world with the appropriate precisely phrased variables, so that software systems are able to interact with it. “These so-called embedded systems have dimensions that are hard to grasp for a normal person: a modern premium car includes software consisting of a hundred million lines of programming code. Just imagine, an ordinary book of 300 pages is made up of ten thousand lines, so accordingly the software for a car like that consists of ten thousand books.”

Retired and Working Full-time

Here, Manfred Broy is not just interested in modelling such systems, but especially in the correlations and dramatic impact their application has on society, culture, education and politics.

“Never in human history has there been a technology, which has reached so many people in such a short timeframe, and which has changed their way of life in such a dramatic way.” This as of yet neither managed nor entirely predictable impact of Computer Science on humans, on basic rights, such as privacy and informal self-determination, is what prevents Broy from finding rest.

After his retirement Broy became the founding president of the Zentrum Digitalisierung.Bayern (Bavarian Centre for Digitalisation) in Garching. In this role he is contributing his instinct for technological trends he wants to “quickly identify and promote” on the one hand, and make “socially responsible” on the other. Here he is able to intensively concentrate on precisely those key issues that concern him: the digital transformation at universities, in businesses and their design, also with regard to Bavaria’s competitive and successful path into the fourth industrial age. “I am not retired”, the Emeritus of Excellence says, “I have a full-time job. Now I am able to focus on the essential issues.”