Robert Calderbank

Robert Calderbank (left), shares a laugh with Engineering Dean Tom Katsouleas and Provost Sally Kornbluth at a reception in his honor Wednesday. (Jared Lazarus, Duke Photography)

By Karl Leif Bates

Robert Calderbank, director of the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) and the Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Computer Science, was the guest of honor at a small reception hosted by top administrators this week.

On July 3, he was named the 2015 recipient of the Claude E. Shannon Award by the IEEE Information Theory Society, the most coveted prize in Calderbank’s field.

“The Shannon Award is as big as it gets in electrical engineering and computer science,” said Tom Katsouleas, dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. “It reflects the fundamental role he’s played in communications, with many of his algorithms in use in mobile phones and internet communications today.”

The iiD is an interdisciplinary program headquartered in Gross Hall, but reaching into many areas of campus, that is increasing Duke’s application of  “big data” computational research.

The Claude Shannon Award honors “consistent and profound contributions to the field of information theory.” It is named for a man considered the father of information theory, who in his 1937 MIT masters thesis first proposed applying Boolean logic to electrical circuits.

Calderbank joined Duke in 2010 to become dean of natural sciences in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. Previously, he had been directing the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University since 2004.  Before that, he was vice president for research at AT&T, responsible for one of the first industrial research labs to focus on “big data.”

Calderbank will present a Shannon Lecture at the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory in Summer 2015 in Hong Kong.