MIT's Gallager and Metcalfe win International Marconi Fellowships

Robert Gallager


Robert Gallager, MIT professor emeritus of electrical engineering and inventor of advanced communications codes, and Robert M. Metcalfe, an MIT alumnus who developed the Ethernet computer networking standard, will share this year's International Marconi Fellowship. The award is given by the Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship Foundation at Columbia University.

"In light of this 30th anniversary year of Ethernet, it's entirely appropriate for a giant among information theorists and one who pioneered a practical application for high-speed data communications to be selected the 2003 Marconi Fellows," said Dr. Charles Kao, chairman of this year's selection committee.

The annual Marconi Fellowship, which includes a shared $100,000 honorarium, recognizes individuals whose aspirations and accomplishments in communications technology emulate those of Marconi, the father of modern communications. The award ceremony will take place in New York on Oct. 3.

Gallager collaborated with the late Claude Shannon, an MIT professor known as the father of modern digital communications and information theory. In his 1960 MIT doctoral dissertation, Gallager developed a series of "low-density parity check codes" that, while long recognized as breakthrough theoretical formulae, are only now being appreciated for their practicality in achieving Shannon's theoretical limitations.

Gallager is a 1953 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and was a member of the MIT faculty from 1960 to 2001. He was a longtime consultant to Codex Corp., which pioneered data communications and was later absorbed by Motorola. His book, "Information Theory and Reliable Communications," is still considered the "bible" on the topic. He also co-wrote "Data Networks" and wrote "Discrete Stochastic Processes," two textbooks widely used by graduate students.

Metcalfe earned a bachelor's degree from MIT in 1969, going on to earn an M.A. in applied mathematics and a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University. While working at the Palo Alto Research Center, he developed Ethernet, a standard for interconnecting computers for high-speed data transfer. He went on to co-found 3Com Corp. and was consulting associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University from 1976-83. During the 1990s he served as CEO of InfoWorld Publishing Co. and wrote a column, "From the Ether." In 2001 he became a general partner with Polaris Venture Partners, specializing in Boston-area information technology startups.

Metcalfe is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a director of Earthlink and MediaLabEurope, among others, as well as a member of the MIT Corporation (the Institute's board of trustees).


Topics: Alumni/ae, Awards, honors and fellowships, Faculty

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