In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Christoph Hoffmann
Our beloved colleague, Professor Emeritus Christoph Hoffmann, passed away on June 10th, 2023 at Westminster Village in West Lafayette, Indiana. Having survived 22 years after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he lost his long battle of more than 12 years with Parkinson’s Disease.
Christoph Martin Hoffmann was born in August 1946 to Hella Daehnhardt and Hermann Hoffmann in Hassenhausen, Germany, a small village near Marburg. After Gymnasium, his first degree in mathematics was from Universitaet Hamburg. He earned his master’s degree in mathematics from Indiana University, followed by his PhD in computer science in 1974 from the University of Wisconsin.
In 1976 he accepted a faculty position from Purdue University in the Department of Computer Science. An accomplished computer scientist, he thoroughly enjoyed research with his many graduate students. He would say he never worked a day in his life, as his joy and pleasure was his work.
Professor Hoffmann’s research was on geometric and solid modeling, its applications to manufacturing and science, and the simulation of physical systems. In particular, his research focused on geometric constraint solving and the semantics of generative, feature-based design. Moreover, Professor Hoffmann co-founded the Computer Graphics and Visualization Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science, with the help of a generous gift from the Tellabs Foundation.
He is the author of Group-Theoretic Algorithms and Graph Isomorphism; Lecture Notes in Computer Science - Reliable Implementation of Real Number Algorithms: Theory and Practice, published by Springer-Verlag; and Geometric and Solid Modeling: An Introduction, published by Morgan Kaufmann, Inc. The latter is the culmination of his work to develop a robust system for solid modeling as a part of a grand project undertaken by Purdue CS in the late 80’s.
In 2011 he received the Pierre Bézier Award by the Solid Modeling Association (SMA). The award recognizes individuals who have made long lasting contributions in solid, geometric, or physical modeling or in their applications.
Professor Willem F. Bronsvoort from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, remembers Professor Hoffmann, “Chris and I had a joint interest in geometric and feature modeling, in particular semantic and multiple-view feature modeling. I met Chris at numerous conferences and cooperated with him on a number of occasions. He has been a major source of inspiration for me by his important contributions to the field, but also by his way of interacting with other people. He was always interested in the work and well-being of everyone at a conference, making no distinction between a freshman and a keynote speaker. Sitting beside him at a conference dinner, talking about technical problems, political issues, and personal things was often the highlight of the conference for me. I will always remember Chris as one of the best—and above all—nicest colleagues I have had.”
Professor Hoffmann and colleagues received national media attention for their work simulating the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The simulation was the first-of-its-kind for merging realistic-looking animation with scientifically rigorous computations.
In 1976 he married Karen Johnson-Hoffmann who survives him, as does his daughter Leah. Also surviving are his two grandchildren, Ian and Sam. His sisters Inga Kircheisen, Maria Kirsch, and brother Harald Hoffmann, all in Germany, also survive.
The family wishes to acknowledge the kind and supportive care from I.U. Hospital, Westminster Village, and Hospice.
A memorial service will be held on July 15, 2023, 11:00 am, at Soller-Baker West Lafayette Chapel, 1184 Sagamore Parkway West, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Professor Hoffmann was committed to supporting the Lafayette Food Bank and Amnesty International. You may leave condolences and memories at www.soller-baker.com.