The Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering is now named for Prof. Andrew Viterbi and his late wife, Erna
Viterbi, co-founder of Qualcomm, is the inventor of the Viterbi Algorithm, which is used in most smartphones today and in data terminals, digital satellite broadcast receivers, and deep space telemetry.
The Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering (EE) has been named for Prof. Andrew Viterbi and his late wife, Erna. The plaque bearing the new name of the Faculty was unveiled December 8 at a festive ceremony held at the Technion with the participation of Prof. Viterbi, his son Alan and daughter-in-law Caryn, Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie, the Technion management and EE alumni.
Andrew Viterbiis the inventor of the Viterbi algorithm – a mathematical formula underlying the operation of many of today’s mobile devices. The Viterbi algorithm enables quick and accurate decoding of many simultaneous signals and helps neutralize signal interference. The mathematical formula is used in all four international standards for digital mobile phones, as well as in data terminals, digital satellite broadcast receivers and deep space telemetry. The algorithm is also used in DNA analysis and identification software.
Prof. Andrew Viterbi, one of the most influential figures in the digital world and co-founder of Qualcomm, has made a significant and outstanding donation of $50 million to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, with the aim of establishing the Technion’s status as a leading institution in the field of electrical engineering and computer engineering in Israel and around the world.Prof. Viterbi’s donation will enable the Technion to recruit and retain first-rate faculty, as well as outstanding graduate students in the fields of electrical and computer engineering, and to upgrade its teaching and research infrastructure.
“We are deeply grateful to Andrew Viterbi,” said Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie. “His and his beloved late wife Erna’s longstanding involvement with the Technion and his understanding of the vital impact of electrical engineering on the State of Israel will help the Technion recruit the best and brightest students and faculty members. Prof. Andrew Viterbi is, first and foremost, a family man, and this is reflected throughout his lifetime, since he was a little boy who fled with his family from the terror of the fascist regime in Italy, through his career as a renowned professor to his being an inventor and a technology leader. Prof. Viterbi is part of the Technion family and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering family. Hannukah is a family holiday, and no time could be more suitable for celebrating the naming of the faculty after him and his late wife, Erna.”
“Viterbi and communications – these are synonyms.You can’t mention one without mentioning the other.”So said Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jacob Ziv who, together with Prof. Avraham Lempel, developed the Lempel-Ziv data compression algorithm, which played a key role in making the Internet a global communications medium.“Prof. Viterbi is a true pioneer in the fields of electrical engineering and computer engineering.The Viterbi algorithm underlies many of the technologies currently being developed in the fields of communications and information.We are very proud that the Faculty of Electrical Engineering will bear his name.”
“The Viterbi family’s donation guarantees that we will be able to continue to be a center of academic excellence and fulfill our role of advancing the State of Israel’s security and prosperity,” said Prof. Ariel Orda, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. “Professor Viterbi gave us another gift, which is impossible to estimate in mere figures, but whose value is far greater. It is a rare combination for a Faculty to be affiliated with the name of a scientific and technological giant while teaching his scientific contributions in advanced courses of its curriculum.”
Prof. Viterbi’s ties with the Technion developed as long ago as 1967, when he delivered a series of lectures here during his sabbatical from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. These roots have developed and deepened since then, and therefore Prof. Viterbi’s name is well known to engineering students at the Technion. In 2000, he was named a Technion Distinguished Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering.
Together with his late wife, Erna Finci Viterbi, Prof. Viterbi has a long history of support for the Technion and the State of Israel. He has been named a Guardian of the Technion, a designation reserved for those who have reached the highest level of support of the Technion. The Viterbis’ gifts to the Technion have included the Andrew J. and Erna F. Viterbi Chair in Information Systems/Computer Science, held by Prof. Oded Shmueli; the Andrew and Erna Finci Viterbi Center for Advanced Studies in Computer Technology at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering; and the Andrew and Erna Finci Viterbi Fellowship Program.
At the festive ceremony held at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie awarded Prof. Andrew Viterbi the Technion Medal – the highest award granted by the Technion for lifetime achievement. The Medal was awarded to Prof. Viterbi for his “decades-long devotion to the Technion as a Distinguished Visiting Professorimparting his pioneering insights; in gratitude for his support of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and the recruitment of new faculty; and with appreciation for his transformational gift to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, that will secure and enhance the Technion’s leadership position in electrical and computer engineering in Israel and globally, and will ensure that the high-tech innovation that is vital to Israel’s economy and defense continues for generations to come.”
“I am extremely proud to have my name associated with the Technion, one of the world’s leading science and technology institutions,” said Dr. Viterbi at the ceremony. “Technion Electrical Engineering graduates are in large part responsible for creating and sustaining Israel’s high-tech industry, which has been essential for Israel’s economic success. To meet the challenges facing us, we must promote the intensive recruitment of new faculty and enter into the emerging research fields.”
The Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering, which is included in the list of the world’s top ten faculties of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has played a crucial role in the development of Israel’s hi-tech industry and in turning Israel into a start-up nation.In early 1970s, the Faculty driving force was essential in creating the infrastructure and knowledge in microelectronics and developments that played a key role in the economic growth of the high-tech industry and the security of the State of Israel.In the following decades, the Faculty paved the way for a series of disciplines, including computer engineering, telecommunications, microelectronics, optoelectronics, nanotechnology and quantum technology.
Over the past twenty years, Technion alumni have been responsible for the establishment and management of more than 1,600 companies that have led to the creation of one hundred thousand jobs; around 35% of these companies were founded by alumni of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
“It is impossible to imagine Israel’s transformation into a world leader in science, technology and innovation without the Technion, and in particular the researchers, students and alumni of its Faculty of Electrical Engineering,” wrote Minister of Education Naftali Bennett in a special letter sent today to Prof. Viterbi. “Your gift will ensure that the newly-named Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering will continue to be a center of world class research and education, providing Israel with future generations of engineers and scientists at the forefront of our dynamic, high-tech economy.”
The ceremony was also attended by alumni of the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering.Many of them are now senior members of Israel’s high-tech industry: the founders of the Rad-Bynet Group, Yehuda and Zohar Zisapel, Apple Israel CEO Aharon Aharon, Qualcomm Israel CEO Aric Mimran, former Qualcomm CEO Eyal Bar-David, and many others.
For more information: https://viterbi.net.technion.ac.il/en/