Pieter S Kritzinger

Emeritus Professor

PhD (Computer Science), Waterloo, Canada 1972
MSc (Elec Eng) WITS, 1968
BSc (Elec Eng) WITS, 1965


My academic activities during my career are in the field of computer science in general and the modelling of concurrent communicating systems (CCS) such as computer networks, in particular.

Upon completing school in Pretoria in 1960 with a distinction in Mathematics, I spent the following year in the South African Naval Gymnasium stationed in Gordons Bay, Western Cape. I then decided to study Electrical Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand in 1962 during the time Professor Guerino Bozzoli was Dean of the Faculty. I graduated with an MSc in Electrical Engineering 1967 and simultaneously completed Mathematics III (Major) in the Science faculty that year.

Under an obligation for the financial support I received during my university studies, I spent the next 15 months at the then National Institute of Metallurgy where Dr. Robert Robinson was the Director in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and finally 3 months in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Natal in Durban.

Since computer science in South Africa was in its infancy, I applied for scholarships in the United States and Canada and eventually chose the University of Waterloo where I enrolled in the PhD program in September 1969. Waterloo Computer Science Department was founded in the early 1960-ties by three individuals: Professors Ralph Stanton, Wesley Graham and Donald Cowan. I graduated in April 1972 and spent six months subsequently travelling to every corner of the North American continent before taking up an Assistant Research Professorship for 2 years in the Computer Science Department at Waterloo.

Despite Canada treating me very well in every way, I wanted to experience Europe and so spent almost 2 years teaching at the Department of Computing, Imperial College in London starting in January 1975.

In January 1977 I took on a Senior Lectureship at Stellenbosch University giving my wife a chance to complete her studies in economics at that university. It soon became clear however that the University of Stellenbosch and I were not destined for each other. I thus spent the full year 1984 as a visiting scientist at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory.

Before leaving for Switzerland I was offered a Full Professorship in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town. I refused at first but on my return that University reinstated its offer of the position that was not generally advertised. This is highly unusual and the UCT Senate required that for understandable reasons the candidate faces a committee of 12 full Professors who had to decide whether he was appointable.

Starting in July 1985 I spent the next 24 years at UCT. During my full-time tenure at UCT, I spent several periods of study leave at amongst others, the Universität Dortmund, Universität Erlangen, le Institut National des Télécommunications (INT) in Evry, France and again at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory (2007). I was also an informal collaborator in the Networking Group of Giuseppe Bianchi at the University of Rome II (Tor Vergata) for 3 years with a former student Paolo Pileggi graduating at that institution with a PhD.

I was Head of the Department at UCT during the turbulent years from 1987 to 1996. During this time computer science as a discipline flourished and the department grew from 4 faculty members to 14. For its strategic development during a critical time, the department was one of the first at UCT to produce a strategic plan in 1990 before the value of such activity was generally recognized at the University.

My research activities at UCT were based in the Data Network Architectures (DNA) Group that I founded on arrival at UCT in 1985. Over my career I supervised 30 MSc and PhD students in the DNA Group from, inter alia, Russia, Germany and Switzerland. It was my stated policy to discourage doctoral studies at UCT since doctoral programs at universities such as Oxford, Imperial College, INT in France, University of Rome and Zurich University obviously offered a far richer academic experience. A few MSc students from the DNA Group went on to do doctoral studies at those institutions. Others stayed for personal reasons and hold important public positions, particularly in Zambia.

I was a member of IFIP WG 6.1, 6.3 and 7.3 for many years and was on the Technical Programming Committee of several international conferences. In 1996 I was elected a Senior Member of the IEEE and in 2007 I was asked to represent South Africa on the IFIP Technical Committee for Telecommunications (IFP TC 6) which I did for 3 years before resigning in 2010.

The following are a selection of publications with co-authors in international peer reviewed journals. In addition, with students, I contributed 30 papers to international peer reviewed conferences and numerous more to local conferences in South Africa.

A note to all prospective graduate students who stumble across my website: I regret that I no longer take on students for supervision. However, if it is only advice you are looking for, you are very welcome to get in touch.

My other Interests are that I have been an Epicurean all my life in that I enjoy fine wines, good cigars and creative cooking. Otherwise, by the nature of my academic career, where I have had the privilege to work with many young minds, I am always curious to understand other individuals and who they really are in every sense.

With time, I have also come to understand the saying attributed to Albert Einstein, namely that he knew only two things which are infinite: The universe and the stupidity of people, but that he was not so sure about the first.

August 2018