Norbert GIAMBIASI, Professor Emeritus
DEVS pioneer and founder of LSIS
dies at 69


November 14, 2016


The LSIS is saddened by the death of its distinguished Founder, Professor Norbert GIAMBIASI who passed away on November 14, 2016 at the age of 69. Known worldwide as a leader in the field of modeling and simulation, and a pioneer of the DEVS (Discrete EVent Specification) formalism, he was an expert in the design and analysis processes of discrete event systems, expounding on the interplay of computer science and automation areas.

Norbert GIAMBIASI received his doctorate degree in 1974 from the University of Montpellier II. He prepared his Ph.D. at the Laboratoire d’Automatique de Montpellier (LAM) where he stayed until 1981. Later, he continued his career as a full Professor at the University of Aix-Marseille where he cofounded the Laboratoire d’Automatique et d’Informatique de Marseille (LAIM).

Professor Norbert GIAMBIASI strongly believed in providing opportunities for both young and established investigators in the field. In October 1987, he created in Nimes a new engineer school where he was the Director of Research and Development and founded the research laboratory Laboratoire d’Etude et de Recherche en Informatique (LERI). In 1994, he came back to the University of Aix-Marseille where he founded a new CNRS laboratory, the Laboratoire des Sciences de l’Information et des Systèmes (LSIS) composed by more than two hundred researchers. After the LSIS was officially established in 2002, he served as its first director until 2009. In 2012 he was appointed Professor Emeritus of Aix-Marseille University.

His research accomplishments are well recognized in different areas of modeling and simulation of dynamical systems with more than 400 international publications. He was the principal investigator of more than fifty research contracts, referee for national and European research projects, member of program committees of several major international conferences and associate editor of international journals. As a world-renowned expert, he created during his career several international conferences.

In addition to his research activities, Norbert GIAMBIASI was a dedicated professor. He supervised more than forty Ph.D. students. He provided young people with all his support and very importantly also the credits for their scientific work. Many of these individuals are now leading researchers and engineers in academia and industry all over the world.

Professor Norbert GIAMBIASI was a strong believer in international partnerships. In 2007, he took part in the foundation of the CIFASIS (Centro Internacional Franco Argentino de Ciencias de la Información y de Sistemas) in Argentina, a research laboratory created to perform collaborative research in the fields of Information and Systems Sciences. Much of his research was in collaboration with international scientists around the world over the course of his distinguished career.

In 2014, Norbert GIAMBIASI was honoured by the Society for Modeling and Simulation International (SCS) with the “2014 SCS Outstanding Achievement” award. Due to his numerous important publications and mentoring, he was considered as one of the top scholars in the field of Modeling and Simulation.

Norbert is survived by his beloved wife Claudia and his academic family at LSIS, who remain steadfast in continuing his mission.


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De (from) : Maximiliano Cristiá (cristia@cifasis-conicet.gov.ar)

I will always remember Norbert as one of a handful of persons in the academic community who helped me without waiting nothing in return. Without him and Claudia I could not have finished my PhD and CIFASIS, the place where I work now, wouldn’t exist. I’m sad for not having the opportunity of returning him at least something of his help.


De (from) : Bernard P. Zeigler (zeigler@rtsync.com)

Norbert is especially important to remember as the inventor of Generalized DEVS. His legacy will be secure through his many graduate students and colleagues, many of whom are themselves outstanding contributors to DEVS. He was a great scientist, a talented professor and a good friend of mine.


De (from) : Gabriel A. Wainer (gwainer@sce.carleton.ca)

“I like doing research in the field of Real-Time systems” “Well : when you get your PhD, you can do whatever you want. But now I can offer you to do a thesis on Distributed Simulation. You can come to work with us in Marseille ; what do you think ?” “I think that Distributed Simulation is great”.

This was my first interaction with Norbert ; my mentor, my academic parent ; a true friend and an example to follow. He received me at DIAM/IUSPIM and taught me about academics (“there is no such a thing as simultaneous events” ; “now add transport and inertial delays” ; “a PhD just shows that you can do research”) and life (travelling, aïolli, oysters and escargots ; and, of course, Lunel – the center of the Universe).

There are no words to express this sadness. We know his academic credentials. But I will always remember is his joie-de-vivre, his sharpness, his sense of humor, and his wittiness. “Claudia !”, he shouted. And she came to the office. “Traduit” he said. Claudia asked : “Entendiste ?”. I looked at her and, replied : “Si”. Then, she could go back to whatever we interrupted.

I always understood, Norbert, and I always will. I’ll really miss you.


De (from) : Marco POCCI (pocci.marco@gmail.com)

J’ai toujours admiré Norbert pour la simplicité de sa logique, pour la pragmatisme et solidité de ses argumentation. Je l’ai connu a la fin de son excellent carrière et je regrette de ne pas avoir pu travaillé avec lui autan que voulais. Cependant, je me considère à la fois très heureux et fier d’avoir été son thésard et que nos chemins se soient croisés durant ma brève vie Marseillaise. Avec Isabel, Il a toujours été là pour moi et j’en lui serai reconnaissant toute ma vie.


De (from) : Jerzy Rozenblit (jr@ece.arizona.edu)

It’s with deep sadness that I learned today of Norbert’s passing. We met briefly at various conferences, and I truly enjoyed Norbert’s insights and probing questions. His exuded warmth and closeness even though we were only acquaintances. So very sorry. RIP.


De (from) : Cecilia ZANNI-Merk (cecilia.zanni-merk@insa-rouen.fr)

I can only agree with the words of Gabriel Wainer. Norbert was an example for all of us who were lucky enough to cross his path.
I used to be terribly afraid of his questions, always sharp and exactly about the only point you did not master of all you argument. The day before my defense, I remember having requested him not to ask difficult questions as an examiner ... He kept his word :-)
And I also remember our travels together and the long dinners he prepared for Claudia and myself, during my first years in Marseilles.
Norbert, we will miss you