Chua was born in 1936, in the Philippines and grew up with his twin sister in a Chinese Filipino community. Philippines was under the rule of the Japanese empire at this time until the World War II. Chua attended the Mapua Institute of Technology and received his BSEE degree in 1959. Soon he earned a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he emigrated to the U.S. In 1961, Chua got his MSEE degree from MIT. In 1964 he got his PhD degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with a thesis titled ‘Nonlinear network Analysis – The Parametric Approach’. He started teaching at Purdue University, where he taught from 1964-1970. In 1971, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he has remained ever since.
Dr. Leon O. Chua is widely recognized as the father of nonlinear circuit theory and cellular neural networks (CNN). The CNN architecture is the only one implemented into a practical fully-programmable chip for solving ultra-high-speed pattern recognition and image processing problems. The CNN universal machine chip is capable of a thousand times greater performance in speed, weight and power consumption than related technologies. Dr. Chua also invented a five-element circuit for generating chaotic signals. Aptly named the Chua Circuit, it is used by many researchers to design secure communications systems based on chaos.
An IEEE Fellow, he is a past president of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society and former editor of the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems. He is the Editor of The International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos.
Dr. Chua has nine honorary doctorate degrees from prestigious universities across the world, like the AGH University of Science and Technology (Poland), University of Frankfurt (Germany), University of Tokushima (Japan), to name a few. In 2002 he was named among the top fifteen most cited engineering authors. He has won numerous awards, like the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1985, the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Golden Jubilee Medal in 2000, the IEEE Third Millenium Medal and the IEEE Neutral Networks Pioneer Award, also in 2000 and the IEEE Gustav Robert Kirchhoff Award in 2005.