In Memoriam Peter Brucker
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Peter Brucker, age 71, died on July 24, 2013 due to a tragic automobile accident near his home in the Allgäu. He studied Mathematics at the Free University of Berlin, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1969. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University he did his habilitation in Operations Research at the University of Regensburg in 1974. From 1974 to 1980, he was associate professor in Oldenburg, and then he became full professor at the University of Osnabrück where he stayed until his official retirement in 2007. However, he never really retired, and remained active until his untimely death. Together with his family, Peter moved from Osnabrück to the Allgäu—an area he especially liked for its outdoor activities—and continued to teach courses at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich.
Peter’s contributions to our field are too numerous to recall here. In the area of scheduling, Peter started out with an interest in complexity results, and published papers with such luminaries as David Johnson, Alexander Rinnooy Kan, and Jan Karel Lenstra at a time when the area was largely unexplored. Today his book on scheduling is in its fifth edition and is considered to be one of the standard texts on scheduling. He has been an associate editor of the Journal of Scheduling since its inception. Over the years, Peter’s interests shifted to more applied, yet rigorous work. Peter cared deeply about relevance. We remember him complaining that there were numerous approximation schemes in the Computer Science theory community which were purely theoretical in nature. To him theory should have an eye on practicability. Peter focused on methods for numerous types of shop problems relevant in practice, time-tabling, and the framework of resource constrained project scheduling. Applications of his work were in diverse areas such as scheduling for Health Care, and logistics for the Deutsche Bahn AG and the Bundeswehr.
Peter was open-minded, always willing to listen to new ideas, and generous with his time. He was quite active professionally, visiting universities and conferences all over the world. And he led a healthy life style and greatly enjoyed outdoor activities.
Peter’s untimely death has left a gaping chasm in our academic community, and also in us personally. He has inspired so many students and his contributions in the area of combinatorial optimization, especially scheduling, are for the ages. Peter will be missed in so many ways and we are filled with great sadness.