Robert G. Gallager

Robert Gallager

Awarded the Marconi Prize in 2003

Cited for his fundamental contributions to information theory and the theory of communications networks.

Presented by: Antonio Bandini, Consul General of Italy.

Robert G. Gallager was born in Philadelphia, PA, on May 29, 1931. He received the B.S.E.E. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1953, and the S.M. and Sc.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I. T.) in 1957 and 1960, respectively. He was a member of the technical staff at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1953-1954 and then served in the U.S. Signal Corps from 1954 to 1956. He has been a faculty member at MIT since 1960 where he was Co-Director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems from 1986 to 1998, was named Fujitsu Professor in 1988, and became Professor Emeritus in 2001. He was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, in 1965 and a Visiting Professor at the E.N .S. T, Paris, in 1978. His 1960 Sc.D. thesis, Low Density Parity Check Codes, was published by the M.I.T. Press as a monograph in 1963. An abbreviated version appeared earlier (January 1962) in the IRE Transactions on Information Theory and was republished in the 1974 IEEE Press volume, Key Papers in The Development of Information Theory, edited by Elwyn Berlekamp. This paper won an IEEE Information Theory Society Golden-Jubilee Paper Award in 1998 and its subject matter is a very active area of research today. Gallager’s Jan. 65 paper in the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, “A Simple Derivation of the Coding Theorem and some Applications, won the 1966 IEEE W .R.G. Baker Prize “for the most outstanding paper, reporting original work, in the Transactions, Journals and Magazines of the IEEE Societies, or in the Proceedings of the IEEE’ and also won another IEEE IT Society Golden-Jubilee Paper Award in 1998. His book, Information Theory and Reliable Communication, Wiley 1968, placed Information Theory on a sound mathematical foundation and is still considered by many as the standard textbook on information theory.

In the mid 1970’s, Gallager’s research focus shifted to data networks, focusing on distributed algorithms, routing, congestion control, and random access techniques. Data Networks, Prentice Hall, 1988, second edition 1992, co-authored with D. Bertsekas, helped provide a conceptual foundation for this field. His June1993 joint paper with A. K. Parekh, “A Generalized Processor Sharing Approach to Flow Control in ISN won the IEEE Communication Society’s William Bennett Prize Paper Award “for the best original paper published in the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking in the past year” and a preliminary version won the Prize Paper A ward for Infocomm 1993.

In the 1990’s, Gallager’s interests shifted back to information theory and to stochastic processes. He wrote the 1996 textbook, Discrete Stochastic Processes, Kluwer. Gallager’s current interests are in information theory, wireless communication, all optical networks, data networks, and stochastic processes.

Gallager has always been particularly proud of the many graduate students whose research he has supervised, many of whom are now themselves leading researchers in their fields. He has also been an extremely conscientious and effective teacher and received the M.I.T. Graduate Student Council Teaching A ward for 1993. He is currently working on a textbook in Digital Communications.

Gallager was instrumental in the founding of Codex Corporation in 1962 (now part of Motorola) and consulted there for many years. He served Codex as Acting Vice President for Research in 1971-1972. His fundamental studies on quadrature amplitude modulation and detection led directly to the 9600 bits/sec modems that provided Codex’s commercial success. He has also consulted for the M.I. T Lincoln Laboratory a number of other companies. He has been granted five patents on his inventions.

Gallager was President of the IEEE Information Theory Society in 1971, a member of its Board of Governors from 1965 to 1972 and again from 1979 to 1988. He served the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory as Associate Editor for Coding 1963-1964 and as Associate Editor for Computer Communications from 1977 to 1980. He was Chairman of the Advisory committee to the NSF Division on Networking and Communication Research and Infrastructure from 1989 to 1992, and has been on numerous visiting committees for Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments.

Gallager’s major honors, in addition to the prize paper awards mentioned above, include:

  • IEEE Fellow (1968)
  • Univ. of Penn. Moore School Gold Medal Award (1973)
  • Guggenheim Fellow (1978)
  • U.S. National Academy of Engineering (1979)
  • IEEE Information Theory Society Shannon A ward “for consistent and profound contributions to information theory” (1983)
  • IEEE Medal of Honor “for fundamental contributions to communications coding techniques” (1990)
  • U. S. National Academy of Sciences (1992)
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, (1999)
  • Harvey Prize in Science and Technology of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology “in recognition of his pioneering work and fundamental contributions to Information and Coding Theories and for his profound insight into the Theory of Computer Networking, which have inspired the work of many generations of communication engineers and scientists” (1999)
  • Eduard Rhein Prize for Basic Research, Germany, “for his basic work and fundamental contributions to information theory, coding theory, to mobile communications and to the theory of communication networks” (2002).