Gallager Receives 2020 Japan Prize


Robert G. Gallager, an emeritus professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), has been named as a 2020 Japan Prize Laureate. Gallager, who was honored in the “Electronics, Information, Communication” prize field, was recognized for “pioneering contributions to information and coding theory,” according to an announcement from the Secretariat of the Japan Prize Selection Committee.

Gallager was recognized for inventing low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes, which can achieve coding efficiency very close to its theoretical limit, known as the Shannon-limit. “His invention was crucial in enabling error-free communication over noisy communication channels and led to the realization of today's highly reliable high-speed and large-capacity communication,” according to the announcement. The foundation noted that while Gallager first proposed LDPC codes in the 1960s, “his ideas were not adopted for the next 30 years, partially due to the difficulties of its practical implementations.” That limitation changed with rapid improvements in computer-processing capability during the 1990s. Since the early 2000s, LDPC codes have been widely adopted in digital communication and storage systems, the foundation noted: “It has become an extremely important basic technology that supports our modern digital society.”


Gallager joined the MIT faculty in 1960, after receiving a BS from the University of Pennsylvania and SM and ScD from MIT, all in electrical engineering. MIT Press published his ScD thesis on LDPC codes as a monograph in 1963. He served as co-director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) from 1986 to 1999, was named Fujitsu Professor in 1988, and became an emeritus professor in 2001. For more, please click this.