Horstmann, Cay

Horstmann, Cay

Date Updated



Computer Science

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


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Cay Horstmann's Home Page


Educational Background

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mathematics, Ph.D.1987
  • Christian Albrechts Universität Kiel, Germany, Mathematics and Computer Science, Diplom 1981
  • Syracuse University, Computer Science, M.S.1980

Dissertation Title

Complex Surfaces of General Type

Teaching Experience

  • PFH Göttingen, Germany, Professor, 2019-2023
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Visiting Professor, 2018
  • Haute École d'Ingénierie et Gestion du Canton de Vaud, Switzerland, Visiting Professor, 2014-2015
  • Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam, Visiting Professor, 2010-2011
  • Inter-University Institute of Macau, Visiting Professor, 1999-2000; 2004-2005
  • San Jose State University, Professor of Computer Science, Department of Computer Science, 1987-2019

Administrative and Professional Experience

  • Preview Systems Inc. Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, 1997-2000
  • Horstmann Software Design Corporation, President, 1986-1996


  • ACM Distinguished Member for educational contributions to computing, 2017
  • Associate Editor of the ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 2007-2021
  • Designer of the Udacity CS1/Java course 2013
  • Elected Java Champions Member, 2005
  • Member of the Development Committee for the College Board Advanced Placement Computer Science Examination, 2004 - 2008

Selected Publications



  • Codecheck, a “convention over configuration” service for grading of programming assignments, 2012-2022
  • Labrat, a program for automatic program grading, Wiley, 2006
  • GridWorld, an environment for teaching CS1 concepts, 2005-2006
  • Violet, a simple UML editor for students, 2002-2005
  • ChiWriter, a scientific/multilingual word processor, 1986-1996
  • Safe STL, a safe version of the C++ Standard Template Library, 1995

Personal Commentary

When I joined SJSU in 1987, I was excited. There was an obvious need for high quality education that was affordable to all, and I was glad to be a part of it. The pay was a bit of a joke, but I was able to take leaves of absence to work in industry. I felt that the university appreciated practice and utility just as much as pure research. I provided rigorous and relevant instruction for a very large number of students who went on to successful careers as computer scientists. When I retired 32 years later, I felt disillusioned. The quality of education had decreased significantly. Professional teaching was systematically devalued. Remember those furloughs? And the army of poorly trained and criminally underpaid adjuncts? For students, the affordability wasn’t anywhere near what it used to be. I hated seeing my students having to work instead of focusing on their studies, and still be burdened by debt. I detested the push away from practical creative work towards often dull, and sometimes plainly dishonest research. And the pay was still a joke—my final salary, adjusted for inflation, was less than my starting salary.

There still is a need for high quality education that is affordable to all. I hope that the voters of our great state will once again see that need and insist that their elected representatives redo what was so successfully done seventy years ago, and recreate an educational system that was then the envy of the world.


Horstmann, Cay