Robert Calderbank, professor, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Robert Calderbank’s current position is dean of Natural Sciences at Duke University. Previously he was professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics at Princeton University, where he also directed the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics. Calderbank joined Princeton from AT&T when he retired as vice president for Research after creating the first Research Lab in the world where the primary focus is data at massive scale from business operations. As VP Research he managed AT&T intellectual property, and had line responsibility for licensing revenue. Calderbank is an IEEE Fellow and an AT&T Fellow, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005.

At the start of his career at Bell Labs, Calderbank was responsible for research innovations in a progression of voiceband modem standards that moved communications practice close to the Shannon limit. He also launched the Bell Labs research program in signal processing and error correction for advanced read channels (magnetic recording). These two product families played a significant role in transforming AT&T Microelectronics from a vertically integrated cost center to a commercially based supplier of electronic components. Together with Peter Shor and colleagues at AT&T Labs he then developed the group theoretic framework for quantum error correction. This concept has changed the way physicists view quantum entanglement, and is the foundation for fault tolerant quantum computation.

Together with Vahid Tarokh and Nambi Seshadri, Calderbank developed the idea of correlating signals across different transmit antennas to improve the reliability of wireless communication. Since publication in 1997, this form of coding has progressed from theory to incorporation in a broad range of wireless standards wireless standards including UMTS, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.16, and IEEE 802.20. Space-time block codes are incorporated in the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) standard, a spread spectrum technology that has been selected by European and Japanese standards bodies as the physical layer for third generation wireless infrastructure known as Universal Mobile Telecommunication Systems or UMTS.