Researcher and Mentor Awarded IEEE Medal of Honor
IEEE Life Fellow Thomas Kailath is the recipient of the 2007 IEEE Medal of Honor for his development of powerful algorithms in the fields of communications, computing, control, and signal processing, according to the award’s citation.
A professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford University, Kailath has been an engineering Renaissance man. J.F. Gibbons, former Stanford dean of engineering, said of Kailath in 1995, “His career has been an extraordinary success many times over, and for a different set of reasons each decade.”
Indeed, the focus of Kailath’s research and teaching was information theory and communications in the 1960s; linear systems, estimation, and control in the 1970s; very large-scale integration (VLSI) design and sensor-array signal processing in the 1980s; and applications to semiconductor manufacturing and digital communications in the 1990s. Over this period, he also made contributions to stochastic processes, operator theory, and linear algebra.
His work during the 1960s led to prize-winning papers on an algorithm for exploiting the availability of noiseless feedback and new techniques in signal-detection theory. In the 1970s his work on systems and control culminated in the influential textbook, Linear Systems,Prentice-Hall,1980. From the late 1970s through the 1980s, his group worked on multiple antenna signal processing and contributions to the design of VLSI arrays for signal processing; in the 1990s, they made notable contributions to resolution enhancement techniques for optical lithography in semiconductor manufacturing.
Kailath’s graduate work was at MIT, where in 1961 he became the school’s first student from India to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering. After 18 months at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, CA, he was hired as an associate professor at Stanford, where he taught for over 40 years. Kailath has mentored more than 100 doctoral and postdoctoral students; over 40 are already IEEE Fellows, several are in academia and over a dozen have founded successful private and public companies, some with Professor Kailath as a co-founder. He has authored or co-authored 5 books and more than 300 journal papers. His honors include outstanding-paper prizes from the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Signal Processing, and Semiconductor Manufacturing; the IEEE Education and Kilby Signal Processing medals; Guggenheim and Churchill Fellowships; several honorary degrees and election to the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
The Medal of Honor, sponsored by the IEEE Foundation, is the institute’s highest award. It is scheduled to be presented to Kailath on 16 June during the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony, in Philadelphia.