My Top 12 Marconi Award Winners

While reading an article on social media I came to know that Siavash M. Alamouti has been awarded the Marconi Award for the year 2022. It came as no surprise as his work on MIMO technology has been ground breaking and has influenced the work of thousands of researchers. If there is a moot point it is that this award must have been given earlier. Just look up his 1998 paper on Google Scholar and you will find that the number of citations has reached a staggering figure of 18,756. On a personal front, I must admit that when I started my research on MIMO I was having difficulty grasping the concepts and it was Alamouti’s paper that set my direction of research.

I was intrigued to find out who the other recipients of Marconi Award are? And what are their contributions to the field of communications (radio, mobile, wireless, telecommunications, data communications, networks, and Internet)? Lo and behold I found out that there have been more than 50 winners, some individual and some joint. But who are the ones that stand out? That I have come across in my research work and have influenced it? So without any disrespect to the others I have come up with the list of 12 recipients that I find most deserving.

Trivia: Robert Kahn, the man behind Internet, was a last minute entry 🙂

1990 Andrew Viterbi
Dr. Viterbi is most popularly known for his algorithm for decoding convolutional codes. But he has other achievements as well such as co-founding Qualcomm Inc. with Irwin Jacobs in 1985. Qualcomm introduced Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) to the cellular industry which increased the capacity of cellular systems many times over.

1994 Robert Kahn
Dr. Kahn was responsible for the system design of the ARPANET which eventually resulted in the creation of modern day Internet. Its initial purpose was to link computers at Pentagon-funded research institutions over telephone lines. Also, he conceived the idea of open-architecture networking and is co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols.

1996 Gottfried Ungerboeck
Dr. Ungerboeck received a PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. At IBM Zurich he worked on digital signal processing and switching systems, communication and information theory. Among many contributions to communication and information theory, he invented Trellis Coded Modulation (TCM) a modulation scheme that transmits information with high efficiency over band limited channels.

1997 David Forney
Dr. Forney worked with Dr. Gallager and Dr. Massey at Codex Corporation to develop codes and decoding mechanisms for NASA Pioneer Deep Space Mission. Later on he also worked on developing the QAM 9600 bps modem which was state of the art modem at that time. He worked for various organizations include MIT and Motorola and won numerous awards.

1999 James L. Massey
Professor Massey made significant advances in forward error correcting codes, multi-user communications, and cryptographic systems. His work on coding theory included developing links between convolutional codes and linear systems, and the development of the Berlekamp-Massey algorithm for decoding BCH codes. His work on cryptography included the invention of the block ciphers IDEA and SAFER+ which have found wide-spread use and have inspired other block cipher designs.

2003 Robert Gallager
Dr. Gallager has been associated with the field of Digital Communication throughout his life and his book Information Theory and Reliable Communication is still considered by many as the standard textbook on Information Theory. He founded LDPC codes in 1960, which have seen a revival recently and are being used in 5G Wireless Systems. He has served MIT and Bell Labs as a teacher and researcher and has won numerous awards. His work on Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) resulted in development of 9600 bps modem.

2004 Sergey Brin and Larry Page
Sergey Brin and Larry Page together founded Google which today is valued at more than a trillion dollars, joining an elite club which also includes Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla. Brin and Page had the amazing idea of organizing all of the world’s information while they were pursuing their PhDs at Stanford. They dropped out of the PhD program to pursue their dream and rest is history.

2011 Irwin Jacobs
Dr. Jacobs published a classic textbook in Digital Communications and Information Theory which is still being used over half a century later. He formed Linkabit, a company that launched digital satellite communication services, connecting superstores and gas stations. Linkabit was a big commercial success but nothing as compared to his second venture; Qualcomm, a pioneer in CDMA technology and a fortune 500 company.

2012 Henry Samueli
Dr. Samueli excelled in electronics and signal processing since his childhood. Later on in his life he did ground breaking work in the area of analog and mixed signal circuits which led to the creation of Broadcom Corporation. Here he created world’s first chipset for the digital cable TV set-top box.

2014 Arogyaswami Paulraj
Dr. Paulraj developed signal processing techniques for the SONAR which were widely adopted by the Indian Navy. He is also the inventor of ESPRIT method of high resolution spectral estimation. But his biggest contributions are to the field of MIMO antenna systems and to the development of WiMAX standard.

2020 Andrea Goldsmith
Dr. Goldsmith has made valuable contributions to the theory of Wireless Communications particularly to Adaptive Modulation. Dr. Goldsmith has helped under-represented groups compete on an equal playing field and donated her $100,000 Marconi Prize to start an endowment fund for diversity initiatives.

2022 Siavash Alamouti
Invention of Alamouti Code which has been adopted by 3G, LTE, LTE-Advanced and 5G Standards and used in billions of devices worldwide. He is a great proponent of cloud decentralization, a core requirement for an Open Internet.

Author: Yasir Ahmed (aka John)

More than 20 years of experience in various organizations in Pakistan, the USA, and Europe. Worked as a Research Assistant within the Mobile and Portable Radio Group (MPRG) of Virginia Tech and was one of the first researchers to propose Space Time Block Codes for eight transmit antennas. The collaboration with MPRG continued even after graduating with an MSEE degree and has resulted in 12 research publications and a book on Wireless Communications. Worked for Qualcomm USA as an Engineer with the key role of performance and conformance testing of UMTS modems. Qualcomm is the inventor of CDMA technology and owns patents critical to the 4G and 5G standards.
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