Robert McEliece

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Robert J. McEliece (May 21, 1942 – May 8, 2019)[1] was a Allen E. Puckett Professor of mathematics and engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) best known for his work in information theory. He was the 2004 recipient of the Claude E. Shannon Award and the 2009 recipient of the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal.

Born in Washington D.C.,[2] McEliece was educated at Caltech (B.S. 1964, Ph.D. 1967[3]) and Cambridge. He was one of the important contributors to the development of a decoder of long-constraint-length (K=13, K=15) convolutional codes, which were added to the Galileo spacecraft upon the redesign of its mission, following the 1986 crash of the Space Shuttle.

In 1950s, McEliece collaborated with Elwyn Berlekamp at the University of California, Berkeley, where he showed the difficulty of decoding general linear codes. From 1978 and until his retirement McEliece served as a consultant for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which at that time was under management of Fabrizio Pollara.[1]

He died in Pasadena, California on May 8, 2019.[2]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The theory of information and coding: A mathematical framework for communication. Addison-Wesley. 1977.[5]
  • A Public-Key Cryptosystem Based on Algebraic Coding Theory, JPL Deep Space Network Progress Report 42– 44 (1978), pp. 114–116, Bibcode1978DSNPR..44..114M
  • On the Inherent Intractability of Certain Coding Problems (with E. R. Berlekamp and H. Van Tilborg), IEEE Trans. Inf. Theory IT-24 (1978), pp. 384–386, doi:10.1109/TIT.1978.1055873

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Robert J. McEliece, 1942–2019". CalTech. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "In Memoriam: Robert J. McEliece". IEEE Information Theory Society. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  3. ^ Robert McEliece at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ "IEEE Fellows 1984". IEEE Communications Society. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Berlekamp, E. R. (1978). "Review: The theory of information and coding, by R. J. McEliece". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 84 (6): 1351–1353. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1978-14575-3.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gerard J. Foschini
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
Succeeded by
John Cioffi