Aaron D. Wyner, (1939-1997)

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Aaron D. Wyner, (1939-1997) portrait

Aaron D. Wyner, (1939-1997)

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Aaron Wyner was born in the Bronx, NY on March 17, 1939, and he graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1955. He completed a 5-year joint engineering program with Queens College (City University of New York) and Columbia University, receiving a B.S. (in math and physics) from Queens and a B.S.E.E. from Columbia, both in 1960. He continued studying at Columbia, receiving his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in January, 1963. He was an Assistant Professor at Columbia in the Spring Semester 1963, and that summer joined Bell Telephone Laboratories (later AT&T Bell Labs and now Lucent Technologies Bell Labs), where he has been working ever since. In 1974 he succeeded Steven O. Rice as Head of the Communications Analysis Research Department (changed in 1996 to the Mathematics of Communicatons Research Dept.-click for our history) - a job which he held for 19 years until 1993, when he returned to full-time research. He spent the year 1969-70 visiting the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Technion in Israel, supported by a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He has also taught part-time at Columbia, Princeton, and the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

Dr. Wyner has done research in a wide variety of subjects in information theory and communication theory, as well as in related areas of mathematics. He was one of the major players in the multiple-user Shannon theory explosion of the 1970's. One of his papers in this area, "The Rate-Distortion Function for Source Coding with Side-Information at the Decoder", written jointly with his longtime collaborator Jacob Ziv, won the 1977 Information Theory Society Prize Paper Award. He also worked in cryptology and analog scrambling, and in 1975 published a well-known paper on the so-called "wire-tap channel".

Dr. Wyner has been active in the IEEE Information Theory Society. He served for many years on the Society's Board of Governors, as Chairman of the Metropolitan New York Chapter, and as Co-Chairman of two international symposia and an international workshop. He was also the first Associate Editor for Shannon Theory (a term that he coined) of the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal from 1983-1986. In 1976 he was President of the Information Theory Society. Commissioned by the Society, Dr. Wyner and Dr. N.J.A. Sloane collected and published the complete works of Claude Shannon (IEEE Press, 1993.  Click here for more information ). For contributions to the Information Theory Society, he received an IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984.

He has also been active in the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), having served as Chairman of the United States Commission C (Signals and Systems) and as Vice-Chairman of the International Commission C.

He was the "Shannon Lecturer" at the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, held in Trondheim Norway in June 1994. This award, now called the "Claude E. Shannon Award", is the IEEE Information Theory Society's highest honor. In 1994, he was also elected to the United States National Academy of Engineering.