Klaus-Tschira-Medal for Christiane Floyd

  • By Frithjof Nagel / Martin Wagner (edt.)
  • 2020-10-04
  • Award
  • Faculty
  • Excellence

Our honorary professor received the prestigious biannual award for her contribution to the advancement of science and research.

Hannes Federrath (President, Gesellschaft für Informatik) presented the award to Christiane Floyd at the society’s annual conference in Berlin.
Hannes Federrath (President, Gesellschaft für Informatik) presented the award to Christiane Floyd at the society’s annual conference in Berlin.
Picture: Andreas Plata

With Christiane Floyd, the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) and the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS) honor an impressive scientist and computer science pioneer who has provided first impulses for a multifaceted image of computer science. The medal, named after the SAP co-founder, is awarded every two years to a personality for his or her outstanding services to the application and further development of computer science methods in various areas.

A Role Model, Pioneer, Admonisher, and Advocate of Human-Centered Informatics

Prof. Dr. Hannes Federrath, President of the German Informatics Society: “With her manifold activities, Christiane Floyd is a role model, pioneer, admonisher, and advocate of human-centered informatics, its human-friendly application and the development of a special sense of responsibility. These are some of the reasons why she is considered a pioneer of informatics. Also, Christiane Floyd has dedicated herself to the special promotion of women in computer science to this day—as a role model as well as by actively supporting women scientists working in computer science”.

Beate Spiegel, Managing Director of the Klaus Tschira Foundation: “With Christiane Floyd, we honor a computer scientist who has spent her entire life putting computer science solutions at the service of the common good. Many years ago, for example, she established close relationships with Ethiopian scientists and supported the establishment of an IT network of professors and an IT doctoral program in Addis Ababa. She and her Ethiopian team are currently developing info apps on safe birth in a development cooperation project to reduce maternal and child mortality in African countries.

Expanding the view of Software Development

Christiane Floyd studied mathematics and philosophy at the Vienna University of Technology. After her Ph.D. with a thesis on algebra, she developed an Algol-60 compiler at Siemens in Munich. After further positions at Stanford University and Softlab in Munich, Christiane became the first female computer science professor in the German-speaking world when she took the chair for software engineering at the TU Berlin in 1978. In 1991, she moved to the University of Hamburg and remained there until her retirement.

Under her leadership, the view of software development, which had focused on technical and formal aspects, was expanded to include socio-technical issues. She became known with “STEPS - Softwaretechnik für evolutionäre, partizipative Systementwicklung,” with which she explored the idea of agile working early on. At the same time, she advocated an ethical and philosophical consideration of technical systems and called for the design of computer systems to be as humane as possible.

In 1984 Christiane Floyd founded the “Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung” (FIfF) together with other computer scientists. As a founding chairwoman, she demanded that her guild should deal with ethics as well as mathematics. She continuously fought against the misuse of technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and was ahead of her time.