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Peter Elias

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Biography

Dr. Peter Elias is one of the earliest and most important contributors to the field of information theory. Nearly all of today’s coding techniques in practice stem from his research at Harvard University in the early 1950s and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the mid-1950s through the early 1990s. One of his major contributions was the introduction of convolutional codes, which are now the workhorse of communications systems. He also established the binary erasive channel, which not only demonstrates the fundamental results of information theory, but also is a good model for the study of magnetic recording systems.

Dr. Elias joined the faculty at MIT in 1953. By 1960, he was the head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a position he held until 1966. He remained active in numerous roles there until his death in December 2001. He also held visiting professorships at the University of California at Berkeley, the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London and at Harvard University in Boston. He served on the U.S. President’s Science Advisory Committee panel on Computers in Higher Education and chaired the IEEE Information Theory Group. He also sat on the editorial boards of the Proceedings of the IEEE and IEEE Spectrum and was a founding editor of the journal Information and Control (now known as Information and Computation).

Dr. Elias was an IEEE Life Fellow, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of U.S. National Academy of Engineering.