2017 Information Theory Society Awardees

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The IT Society will present these awards at the annual Awards Banquet at ISIT in Aachen on Wednesday, 28 June, 2017.

The 2017 Thomas M. Cover Dissertation Award recognizes the author of an outstanding doctoral dissertation contributing to the mathematical foundations of any of the information sciences within the purview of the Society.

The award is given to Lele Wang, who is a currently joint postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University and Tel Aviv University. She received the B.E. degree at Tsinghua University, China, and the Ph.D. degree at University of California, San Diego. Her research interests include Information Theory, Coding Theory, Communication Theory, and Discrete Mathematics. She is a recipient of the 2013 UCSD Shannon Memorial Fellowship and the 2013-2014 Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship.

The 2016 Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Awards recognize up to three outstanding papers at the ISIT for which a student is the principal author and the presenter. The award is based on the paper’s technical contribution as well as the quality of its presentation. The award went to three students:

  • Hua Sun for "Blind Interference Alignment for Private Information Retrieval," (co-authored with Syed A. Jafar).

    Hua Sun received the B.E. degree in Communications Engineering from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Beijing, China, in 2011, the M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of California, Irvine, in 2013. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include information theory and its applications to communications, networking, privacy, and storage. He received the IEEE Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award in 2016, an IEEE GLOBECOM Best Paper Award in 2016, and the University of California Irvine CPCC fellowship for the year 2011-2012.

    Syed A. Jafar is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA USA.

  • David Sutter for "Strengthened Monotonicity of Relative Entropy via Pinched Petz Recovery Map," (co-authored with Marco Tomamichel and Aram W. Harrow).

    David Sutter received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from ETH Zurich in 2010 and 2012. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at ETH Zurich. His research interests include classical and quantum information theory.

    Marco Tomamichel is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellow and Senior Lecturer with the Centre for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney.

    Aram W. Harrow is currently an assistant professor at the Center for Theoretical Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Cheuk Ting Li for "Distributed Simulation of Continuous Random Variables," (co-authored with Abbas El Gamal).

    Cheuk Ting Li received the B.Sc. degree in mathematics and B.Eng. degree in information engineering from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2012, and the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 2014. He is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree at Stanford University, with expected graduation date of September 2017. His research interests include generation of random variables, one-shot schemes in information theory, wireless communications and information-theoretic secrecy. 

    Abbas El Gamal is currently the Hitachi America Professor in the School of Engineering and the Fortinet Founders Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.

The 2017 IEEE ComSoc & ITSoc Joint Paper Award recognizes the author(s) of outstanding papers appearing in any publication of the IEEE Communications Society or the IEEE Information Theory Society in the previous three calendar years. This year the award was given for

Ido Tal and Alexander Vardy List Decoding of Polar Codes,” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Volume 61, No. 5, pp. 2213-2226, May 2015.

Ido Tal was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1975. He received the B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, in 1998, 2003 and 2009, respectively. During 2010-2012 he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at San Diego. In 2012 he joined the Electrical Engineering Department at Technion. His research interests include constrained coding and error-control coding.

Alexander Vardy was born in Moscow, U.S.S.R., in 1963. He earned his B.Sc. (summa cum laude) from the Technion, Israel, in 1985, and Ph.D. from the Tel-Aviv University Israel, in 1991. During 1985--1990 he was with the Israeli Air Force, where he worked on electronic counter measures systems and algorithms. During the years 1992 and 1993 he was a Visiting Scientist at the IBM Almaden Research Center, in San Jose, CA. From 1993 to 1998, he was with the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, first as an Assistant Professor then as an Associate Professor. Since 1998, he has been with the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where he is the Jack Keil Wolf Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science. While on sabbatical from UCSD, he has held long-term visiting appointments with CNRS, France, the EPFL, Switzerland, the Technion, Israel, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

His research interests include error-correcting codes, algebraic and iterative decoding algorithms, lattices and sphere packings, coding for digital media, cryptography and computational complexity theory, as well as fun math problems.

He received an IBM Invention Achievement Award in 1993, and NSF Research Initiation and CAREER awards in 1994 and 1995. In 1996, he was appointed Fellow in the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois, and received the Xerox Award for faculty research. In the same year, he became a Fellow of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. He received the IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award (jointly with Ralf Koetter) for the year 2004. In 2005, he received the Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship, and the Best Paper Award at the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS). During 1995--1998, he was an Associate Editor for Coding Theory and during 1998--2001, he was the Editor- in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. From 2003 to 2009, he was an Editor for the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics. He is currently serving on the Executive Editorial Board for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. He has been a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Information Theory Society during 1998--2006, and again during 20112017.


The 2016 Information Theory Society Paper Award recognizes exceptional publications in the field and to stimulate interest in, and encourage contributions to, fields of interest of the Society. The award was given to two papers:

  • Yanlin Geng and Chandra Nair “The Capacity Region of the Two-Receiver Gaussian Vector Broadcast Channel With Private and Common Messages,” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Volume 60, No. 4, pp. 2087 - 2104, April 2014.

    Yanlin Geng is an assistant professor with the School of Information Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University. His research interests are driven by problems that arise in information theory, and related areas such as communication and machine learning. He received the B.Sc. (in mathematics) and M.Eng. (in signal and information processing) from Peking University, and the Ph.D. (in information engineering) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 2006, 2009, and 2012, respectively. After a period of postdoctoral study at CUHK, Dr. Geng joined ShanghaiTech University in 2014.

  • Chandra Nair is an associate professor with the information engineering department at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His current research focuses on studying the optimality of certain inner and outer bounds to capacity regions for fundamental problems in multiuser information theory. In a broader sense these problems are concerned with establishing tensorization/sub additivity properties of certain functionals over high-dimensional probability spaces. Previously, in his dissertation, he gave a proof of the Parisi and Coppersmith-Sorkin conjectures in the Random Assignment Problem; and resolved some conjectures related to Random Energy model approximation of the Number Partition Problem during his post-doctoral years.

    Chandra Nair got his Bachelor’s degree from IIT Madras (India) where he was the Philips (India) and Siemens (India) award winner for the best academic performance (EE dept). Subsequently he was a Stanford graduate fellow (00-04) and Microsoft graduate fellow (04-05) during his graduate studies at the EE dept, Stanford university. Later, he became a post-doc (05-07) with the theory group at Microsoft Research, Redmond. He joined the faculty of the information engineering department at The Chinese university of Hong Kong during Fall 2007. He was an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory (2014-2016) and is currently a distinguished lecturer of the IEEE Information theory society.

    At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he is the Programme Director of the undergraduate program on Mathematics and Information Engineering and the Associate Director of the Institute of Theoretical Computer Science and Communications.

  • Mohammad Ali Maddah-Ali and Urs Niesen “Fundamental Limits of Caching,” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Volume 60, No. 5, pp. 2856 - 2867, May 2014.

    Mohammad Ali Maddah-Ali received the B.Sc. degree from Isfahan University of Technology and a M.A.Sc. degree from the University of Tehran, and PhD degree from University of Waterloo, all in electrical engineering. Then he joined the Wireless Technology Laboratories, Nortel Networks, Ottawa, ON, Canada, for one year. From January 2008 to August 2010, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences aqt the University of California at Berkeley. Since September 2010, he has been at Nokia Bell Lab, Holmdel, NJ, as a communication network research scientist. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University teaching Wireless Communications and Advanced Topic on Wireless Communications and Networking and an adjunct professor at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering covering Information Theory.

    Urs Niesen received the M.S. degree from the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 2005 and the Ph.D. degree from the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2009. From 2009 to 2014 he was a member of technical staff at Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent. Since 2014 he is with the Qualcomm NJ Research Center.

The 2017 James L. Massey Research & Teaching Award for Young Scholars recognizes outstanding achievement in research and teaching by young scholars in the Information Theory community. The award is given to Aaron B. Wagner.

Aaron B. Wagner received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. For one year, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University. Since 2006, he has been with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell, where he is currently an Associate Professor.

He has received the NSF CAREER award, the David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize from the U.C. Berkeley EECS Dept., the Bernard Friedman Memorial Prize in Applied Mathematics from the U.C. Berkeley Dept. of Mathematics, and teaching awards at the department, college, and university level at Cornell. He served as Associate Editor for Shannon Theory for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory during the period 2012-2015.