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John Cioffi

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John M. Cioffi
Born (1956-11-07) November 7, 1956 (age 67)
Illinois, U.S.
Alma materStanford University (PhD)
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (BSEE)
Known forDigital subscriber line
AwardsMarconi Prize (2006)
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal (2010)
IET J J Thomson Medal (2000)
Scientific career
FieldsDigital communications
Coding theory
InstitutionsStanford University
Doctoral advisorThomas Kailath
Doctoral studentsPeter Sienpin Chow
Inkyu Lee

John Mathew Cioffi (born November 7, 1956) is an American electrical engineer, educator and inventor who has made contributions in telecommunication system theory, specifically in coding theory and information theory. Best known as "the father of DSL,"[1] Cioffi's pioneering research was instrumental in making digital subscriber line (DSL) technology practical and has led to over 400 publications and more than 100 pending or issued patents, many of which are licensed.

Early life and education[edit]

John Cioffi was born and raised in Illinois. He earned a B.S.E.E. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1978.

From 1978 to 1982, Cioffi worked as a modem designer at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. While at Bell Laboratories, he also attended Stanford University, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1984, under the supervision of Thomas Kailath.


In 1984, Cioffi left Bell Labs to work at IBM as a hard disk drive read channel researcher.

In 1986, Cioffi began his teaching career as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University. Cioffi supervised the Ph.D. programs of more than 70 students over the course of more than two decades.[2] His and his students' research into discrete multitone modulation (DMT) became widely adopted in digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, used commonly for Internet access.

In 1991, at the age of 35, Cioffi took a leave of absence from Stanford to found Amati Communications Corporation. His vision was to build DSL modems based on his and his students' research. Many of Cioffi's then-current and former students followed him to Amati, where they built the Prelude modem, a DSL modem that could transmit 6+ megabits per second over 9,000 feet of telephone line. The Prelude modem would go on to win what has become known as the "Bellcore ADSL Olympics" in 1993 by performing significantly better than modems using single-carrier modulation techniques, such as quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) and carrierless amplitude phase modulation (CAP), including modems from AT&T and Bellcore.[3] Hundreds of millions of people now use DSL based on Amati's innovations.

In 1993, Cioffi returned to Stanford, although he remained involved with Amati as an officer and director until its 1998 acquisition by Texas Instruments.[4] Cioffi's research interests then turned to dynamic spectrum management (DSM), an improvement on DSL that mitigates service interruptions and allows DSL lines to run with higher and more reliable data rates.

In 2001, Cioffi was elected as a member into the National Academy of Engineering for contributions to the theory and practice of high-speed digital communications.

In 2003, Cioffi founded Adaptive Spectrum and Signal Alignment, Inc. (ASSIA) to help service providers realize improvements in the performance and profitability of their DSL networks. Today ASSIA's customers collectively provide DSL service to more than 70 million subscribers worldwide.[5]

In 2009, Cioffi assumed emeritus status at Stanford, as the Hitachi Professor Emeritus of Engineering.[2] He is now CEO and Chairman of ASSIA.

Honors and awards[edit]

Cioffi has received numerous awards and honors. Among them are:

Selected publications[edit]

  • T. Starr, M. Sorbora, J.M. Cioffi, and P.J. Silverman, DSL Advances, Prentice Hall, 2003.
  • T. Starr, J.M. Cioffi, and P.J. Silverman, Understanding Digital Subscriber Line Technology, Prentice Hall, 1999.
  • J.M. Cioffi, Chapter 4, "Generalized Decision-Feedback Equalization for Packet Transmission with ISI and Gaussian Noise" of Communications, Computation, Control and Signal Processing, a Tribute to Thomas Kailath, editors A. Paulraj, V. Roychowdhury, and C.D. Schaper, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997.
  • J.M. Cioffi, Chapter 34, "Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines" of the Communications Handbook, Editor-in-Chief, J.D. Gibson, CRC Press in cooperation with IEEE Press, 1997.
  • J.M. Cioffi, Chapter 15, "Adaptive Filtering" of the Digital Signal Processing Handbook, editors S.K. Mitra and J.F. Kaiser, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.


  1. ^ Matsumoto, Craig (2005-09-13). "Valley Wonk: DSL Man". Light Reading. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  2. ^ a b "John M. Cioffi, Hitachi Professor Emeritus of Engineering". Faculty group web pages. Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.eetimes.com/disruption/essays/cioffi.jhtml[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "TI to Acquire Amati Communications for $395 Million". Texas Instruments. 1997-11-19. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  5. ^ "DSL Solutions - ASSIA". Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
  6. ^ The White House (2023-10-24). "President Biden Honors Leading American Scientists, Technologists, and Innovators". The White House. Retrieved 2023-10-30.
  7. ^ https://www.ieee.org/content/dam/ieee-org/ieee/web/org/about/awards/recipients/graduate_rl.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  8. ^ "Recipients of IEEE Bell Medal". Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  9. ^ "DSL pioneer wins top telecommunications honor". 25 September 2006.
  10. ^ "NAE Members Directory - Dr. John M. Cioffi". NAE. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  11. ^ "IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  12. ^ "Recipients of the J J Thomson Medal for Electronics".
  13. ^ "IEEE Fellows 1996 | IEEE Communications Society".

External links[edit]

Media related to John Cioffi at Wikimedia Commons