Professor Sir David MacKay (1967-2016)

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Professor David MacKay passed away on April 14, 2016 at age 48.
The IEEE Information Theory Society is sad to report the passing of a distinguished member of our society, Professor David MacKay of the University of Cambridge. David MacKay graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge and did his PhD in Computation and Neural Systems at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He joined Darwin College, Cambridge in 1992 as a Research Fellow and was appointed as a University Lecturer in Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1995. In 2003, he was promoted to Professor of Natural Philosophy and in 2013 was named Regius Professor of Engineering at Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2009 and was knighted earlier this year.

Professor MacKay made many important contributions to information theory and inference. His interdisciplinary background gave him a unique perspective on research problems and brought information-theoretic ideas to bear on problems both theoretical and applied. Many students in our society were influenced by his textbook on Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms (2003), which he made freely available online. Most recently, Professor MacKay was deeply involved in addressing climate change. His engaging book, Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air (2009) is available online for free. He was the chief scientific advisor to the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2009 to 2014.

MacKay blogged about his experiences in the hospital up to 2 days before passing. He is survived by his spouse, Ramesh Ghiassi, and two children, Torrin and Eriska.

Obituaries have appeared in The Telegraph, on the Trinity College news, and from Darwin College. A remembrance by colleagues and friends of David is in preparation and will be published in the next edition of the newsletter.