Robert G. Gallager received the BSEE degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1953, and the S.M. and Sc.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1957 and 1960, respectively. From 1953 to 1956, he was at Bell Telephone Laboratories and then the U.S. Signal Corps. He has been a faculty member at MIT since 1960, became Co-Director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems in 1986, and Fujitsu Professor in 1988. His current title is Professor Emeritus.
His 1960 Sc.D. thesis, entitled “Low Density Parity Check Codes,” was published by the M.I.T. Press in 1963. An abbreviated version appeared earlier (January 1962) in the IRE Transactions on Information Theory and was republished in the 1974 IEEE Press volume, Key Papers in The Developement of Information Theory, edited by Elwyn Berlekamp. This paper won an IEEE IT Society Golden-Jubilee Paper Award in 1998 and is an active area of research today.
A subsequent paper in the IEEE Transactions on IT, “A Simple Derivation of the Coding Theorem and some Applications,” , Jan.65, won the 1966 IEEE Baker Prize and won another IEEE IT Society Golden-Jubilee Paper Award in 1998. His book, Information Theory and Reliable Communication, Wiley 1968, placed Information Theory on a sound mathematical foundation and was the standard text book in the information theory area for many years.
In the mid 1970’s, Professor Gallager’s research focus shifted to data networks, focusing on distributed algorithms, routing, congestion control, and random access techniques. Data Networks, Prentice Hall, 1988, second edition 1992, co-authored with D. Bertsekas, helped provide a conceptual foundation for this field. His joint papers with Parekh, “A Generalized Processor Sharing Approach to Flow Control in ISN,” in 1993 won the William Bennett Prize Paper Award for 1993, and the Prize Paper Award for Infocomm 1993. Finally, his joint 1983 paper with P. Humblet and P Spira in ACM Trans.Prog. Lang. Sys. won the ACM 2004 Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing.
Professor Gallager was involved in the founding of Codex Corporation in 1962 (now part of Motorola) and consulted there for many years. His fundamental studies on quadrature amplitude modulation and detection led directly to the 9600 bps modems that provided Codex’s commercial success. He has also consulted for a number of other companies and has received 5 patents.
He was President of the Information Theory Society of the IEEE in 1971, Chairman of the Advisory committee to the NSF Division on Networking andCommunication Research and Infrastructure from 1989 to 1992, and has been on numerous visiting committees for Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments. His honors, along with the prize paper awards above, include IEEE Fellow (1968), U. of Pa. Moore School Gold Medal Award (1973), Guggenheim Fellow (1978), National Academy of Engineering (1979), IEEE IT Soc. Shannon Award (1983), IEEE Centennial Medal (1984), IEEE Medal of Honor (1990), National Academy of Sciences (1992), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, (1999), The Harvey Prize in Science and Technology from Technion (1999), IEC Fellow (2000), IEEE Third Millenium Medal (2000), Eduard Rhein Award, (2002) and Marconi Fellow(2003) .
He is particulay proud of his many graduate students over the years, and the M.I.T. Graduate Student Council Teaching Award (1993).