Sergio Verdu Presents Claude E. Shannon Memorial Lecture

By Tiffany Fox, (858) 246-0353,

Jack Wolf and Sergio Verdu
CMRR's Jack Wolf (left) with Sergio Verdú.
To watch an archived webcast
of Professor Verdu's lecture,
click here. Length: 1:14:35
[Windows Media player and broadband connection required]

San Diego CA, May 2, 2008  -- Award-winning Princeton University professor Sergio Verdú, recipient of the 2007 Claude E. Shannon Award, presented UC San Diego's Center for Magnetic Recording Research's (CMRR) sixth annual Shannon Memorial Lecture at the Calit2 Auditorium Wednesday in front of a full house of students, faculty and members of the community.

Each year on or around Shannon’s  birthday,  CMRR, with support from Calit2 and its Information Theory and Applications Center (ITA), invites a guest speaker to lecture in honor of the late information theorist. Coincidentally – and befitting of Verdú’s lecture topic – Shannon shares his April 30 birth date with Carl Friedrich Gauss, the German mathematician and physicist who is considered to be the progenitor of estimation theory. Although the two men were born nearly 140 years apart, there are important correlations between their theories. Verdú sought to illustrate these correlations in his lecture titled “Information Theory and Minimum Mean-Square Estimation (MMSE).”

Wolf with Minero and Franceschetti

Paolo Minero Receives UCSD's First Shannon Memorial Fellowship

At a dinner following Sergio Verdú’s Shannon Memorial Lecture, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Jack Wolf presented UC San Diego’s first Shannon Memorial Fellowship to Paolo Minero, a Ph.D. candidate in wireless communications. Minero -- pictured at center above with Wolf at left and advisor Massimo Franceschetti -- was selected for the award based on his work in information theory.

Quoting Mencius, the famed Confucian philosopher, Wolf said, “’There are three joys of a gentleman: The first, to have both parents alive and brothers and sisters without any suffering, the second, not to have anything to be ashamed of before the universe and other people, and the third, to educate talent.’ What a joy our job would bring us if every student were like Paolo.”

Originally from Biella, Italy, Minero received his undergraduate degree at Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2003, and his M.S. degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2006. In 2003, he interned for the corporate research and development group at Qualcomm, Inc., where he was involved in the design of a cellular system for the transmission of voice and data.

Minero is currently working on his Ph.D. under the supervision of Franceschetti, who co-directs Calit2's Advanced Network Sciences group. Minero's research focuses on the characterization of the capacity of wireless networks. He hopes to graduate in June of 2009.

Minero said he was very honored to receive the award, “especially because the fellowship was named after Claude Shannon.”

UCSD professor emeritus Andrew Viterbi, a co-founder of Qualcomm, Inc., and the inventor of the Viterbi algorithm, introduced Verdú. The Viterbi algorithm is still widely used in cellular phones and other communications devices for error correcting codes. Verdú, who said it was “a dream come true to be introduced by Andy Viterbi,” went on to discuss his research about reliability of data transmission, and how it can be further improved by using estimation methods to separate an original signal from “noise.”

Verdú used several real-life examples to illustrate his research, including algorithms for analyzing MMSE in the stock market, DSL lines, the wireless CDMA technology developed by Qualcomm, and even an electronic version of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha . Verdú, a Spaniard himself, said he had derived one of the mathematical formulas in his lecture just the week before.

“Information theory is something that drives technology,” he said. “It is able to predict what new technologies are going to deliver, so it never gets obsolete. It can also have unexpected implications for estimation theory. It turns out that the world of Shannon, or digital communication, has something to do with the world of signal processing, whose origins go all the way back to Gauss.”

And what would Shannon think of Verdú’s research?

"The tendency is to try to tackle too many problems, but Shannon was always emphasizing that in research you should always look at simple models,” Verdú said. “You should make it complicated enough that it’s challenging and interesting, but not more. I’m following that philosophy.”

In addition to receiving the 2007 Shannon award, Verdú won the 2008 Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers' (IEEE) Richard W. Hamming Medal. He is the recipient of several paper awards from the IEEE, including the 1992 Donald Fink Paper Award, the 1998 Information Theory Outstanding Paper Award, the Information Theory Golden Jubilee Paper Award, the 2002 Leonard Abraham Prize Award and the 2006 Joint Communications/ Information Theory Paper Award.

Verdú's doctoral reasearch pioneered the field of multiuser detection, which, in wireless communications, helps the receiver detect original signals from interfering signals. His book Multiuser Detection, published in 1998 by Cambridge University Press, was awarded the Frederick E. Terman Award from the American Society for Engineering Education.


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Tiffany Fox, (858) 246-0353,,

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