Erdal Arıkan

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Erdal Arıkan
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Known forInvention of Polar Codes
AwardsIEEE W.R.G. Baker Award
Information Theory Society Paper Award
IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal
Claude E. Shannon Award
Scientific career
FieldsInformation Theory and Coding, Communication Systems
InstitutionsBilkent University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Erdal Arıkan (born 1958) is a Turkish professor in Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. In 2013, Arıkan received the IEEE W.R.G. Baker Award for his contributions to information theory, particularly for his development of polar coding. In December 2017 he was honored with the 2018 Richard W. Hamming Medal. In June 2018, he received the Shannon Award.



In 1981, Arıkan received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He finished his M.S. and Ph.D. studies in Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1982 and 1985 respectively.

Academic background[edit]

Arıkan served as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before returning to Turkey. He joined Bilkent University as a faculty member in 1987.[1]

In 2008 Arıkan invented polar codes, a system of coding that provides a mathematical basis for the solution of Shannon's channel capacity problem.[2] A three-session lecture on the matter given in January 2015 at Simons Institute's Information Theory Boot Camp at the University of California, Berkeley is available on YouTube.[3][4][5] The lecture is also featured on the Simons Institute webpage, which includes the slides used by Arıkan in his presentation.[6]

Arıkan is an IEEE Fellow, and was chosen as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer for 2014-2015.[7]


In 2010, Arıkan received the IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award and the Sedat Simavi Science Award for the solution of a problem related to the construction of coding schemes that send information at a rate better suited to the capacity of communication channels. The problem had remained unresolved ever since the field of information theory was first established by Claude Shannon in 1948.[8] Arıkan became the recipient for the Kadir Has Achievement Award in 2011 for the same accomplishment. He was named an IEEE fellow in 2012.[9]

In 2013 he received the IEEE W.R.G. Baker Award for his work in the field of polar coding.

In 2018, Arıkan was selected to receive the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Award "for contributions to information and communications theory, especially the discovery of polar codes and polarization techniques."[10] The same year, it was announced that he would be honored with the 2019 Claude E. Shannon Award.

Huawei presented Arıkan with a special award in July 2018, recognizing "his outstanding contribution to the development of communications technology."[11] The medal symbolizes "the importance of new communications technology in leading the world forward."[11] "As engineers," Arıkan said in his acceptance speech, "there is no greater reward than seeing our ideas turn into reality."[12]


  1. ^ "Biographies of New AEs" (PDF). IEEE Information Theory Society. 2010.
  2. ^ Kalai, Gil (2010-11-25). "Emmanuel Abbe: Erdal Arıkan's Polar Codes". Combinatorics and more. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  3. ^ Simons Institute (2015-01-20), Polar Codes I, retrieved 2017-01-26
  4. ^ Simons Institute (2015-01-20), Polar Codes II, retrieved 2017-01-26
  5. ^ Simons Institute (2015-01-20), Polar Codes III, retrieved 2017-01-26
  6. ^ "Polar Codes I | Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  7. ^ "Erdal Arıkan | Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  8. ^ "Prof. Erdal Arıkan Receives Kadir Has Achievement Award". Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  9. ^ "IEEE Fellows — Information Theory Society". Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  10. ^ "Erdal Arıkan Awarded 2018 IEEE Hamming Medal". Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  11. ^ a b "Huawei Recognizes Dr. Erdal Arikan, the Father of Polar Codes, for his Dedication to Basic Research and Exploration". Huawei. 26 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Huawei Recognises Dr. Erdal Arikan, Father of Polar Codes, for his contribution to communications technology. – Irish Tech News". Retrieved 2018-07-26.