Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Viterbi's honorable mention

Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of Linkabit and Qualcomm, was one of four finalists for the biennual Millennium Technology Prize, which is awarded
to inspire and recognize innovations that can provide answers to the challenges of our time, promoting both the quality of human life and sustainable development.
The two previous winners of the prize invented the blue LED (which makes DVDs possible) and the world wide web (which makes reading this blog possible).

Brad Smith in Wireless Week explained how Viterbi’s 1967 publication of the Viterbi algorithm (allowing maximal signal/noise ratio on convolutionally encoded signals) changed the telecommunications world.

This morning in Helsinki, the Technology Academy of Finland. awarded the prize of €800,000 to another finalist, Robert Langer of MIT. Here’s the citation
Professor Robert Langer's innovations have had a significant impact on fighting cancer, heart disease, and numerous other diseases. His work has also brought about significant advances in tissue engineering, including synthetic replacement for biological tissues such as artificial skin. Over 100 million people a year are already using advanced drug delivery systems and this number is rising rapidly. In the future, tissue engineering may revolutionize medical treatment that could affect millions of other individuals. "Tissue engineering holds the promise of creating virtually any new tissue or organ," said Professor Langer.
Viterbi and the other finalists were awarded €115,000, which Viterbi previously said he’d donate to charity. Obviously this is still a high honor, crossing over from an industry-specific award to one recognized more broadly by society.

Vaudeville performers had a maxim: Never follow an animal act or a child act. So I guess I’d say that you don’t want to be a finalist against someone who’s curing cancer.

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