Plenary Speakers

The Technical Program Committee is pleased to announce the participation of the following plenary speakers. All plenary sessions will be held in 313.


Professor, Sapienza - Università di Roma

On the Mathematics of Distinguishable Difference

Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 08:30 - 09:30
Chair: Abbas El Gamal


Abstract: We explore the interplay of Shannon theory with extremal combinatorics.

In the early eighties the author came to the conclusion that the problem of separate encoding of two correlated binary sources for the recovery of their binary sum is a true stumbling block in multi-user information theory and began a quest for new combinatorial tools to face this challenge. Although the problem of the binary sum remains unsolved in the case of general joint distributions, many intriguing problems in combinatorics could be solved using information-theoretic methods and the hope remains that the construction of a bridge between these two fields will eventually bring returns to mainstream information theory.

Biography: János Körner has been a Professor in Computer Science at "Sapienza" University of Rome since 1993. He obtained his Degree in Mathematics from Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest in 1970. From 1970 to 1992 he worked at the Mathematical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. During these years he had two periods of leave: from 1981 to 1983 working at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ, and for the academic year 1987-88 working at ENST, Paris, France. He is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. In 2010 he was elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as an External Member. His research interests are in information Theory, in Extremal Combinatorics and their interplay.

Ingrid Daubechies

James B. Duke Professor, Duke University

Signal Analysis Helping Art Historians and Conservators

Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 08:30 - 09:30
Chair: Sae-Young Chung


Abstract: Signal analysis and information theory can help art historians and art conservators in studying and help understand art works, their manufacture process and their state of conservation. The presentation will review several instances of such collaborations in the last decade or so, and then focus on one particular example: virtual cradle removal. Between the 12th to the 17th century, European artists typically painted on wooden boards. To remediate or prevent structural or insect damage, conservators in the 19th and first half of the 20th century first thinned the panels to a few millimeters, and then strengthened the much thinner wood structures by (permanently) attaching to their backs, hardwood lattices called cradles. These cradles are highly visible in X-ray images of the paintings. X-rays of paintings are a useful tool for art conservators and art historians to study the condition of a painting, as well as the techniques used by the artist and subsequent restorers. The cradling artifacts obstruct a clear "reading" of the X-rays by these experts. We introduce approaches to remove these artifacts, using a variety of mathematical tools, including Bayesian algorithms.

Biography: Ingrid Daubechies joined the Mathematics Department as James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics in Spring, 2011. Daubechies, one of the world's leading mathematicians, is a member of the United States' National Academy of Sciences, was a MacArthur Fellow, and is President of the International Mathematical Union. Professor Daubechies was born and educated in Belgium. She moved to the United States in 1987 where she first worked for Bell Laboratories and then at Princeton University where she was full Professor of Mathematics from 1993-2011. She is best known for her discovery and mathematical analysis of compactly supported wavelets, which are used in image compression, for example in JPEG 2000 for both lossless and lossy compression. She was awarded the Steele Prize for mathematical exposition in 1994 for her book, Ten Lectures on Wavelets.

One focus of Daubechies' current research is the development of analytic and geometric tools for the comparison of surfaces. Her new approach, developed with Yaron Lipmon uses conformal mapping to define a metric between surfaces. Comparison of surfaces plays a central role in many scientific disciplines and in the construction of video animations, and it is also a crucial step in many medical and biological applications. In an earlier collaboration, she worked with paleontologists to develop a quantitative method to characterize the complexity of molar tooth surfaces, in an effort to reconstruct the diet of various extinct taxa.

A particular interest of Professor Daubechies is the improvement of secondary mathematics education in the US and worldwide, and the stimulation of mathematics, science and technology in developing countries. In 2009 she spent part of her sabbatical in Madagascar; she continues to work with Malagasy mathematicians and scientists towards fostering a richer and more stimulating environment for students interested in developing a career in research and higher education.

Michael S. Waterman

Endowed Associates Chair, University of Southern California

DNA Sequencing in the 21st Century: Algorithms and Estimation

Monday, June 30, 2014, 08:30 - 09:30
Chair: Gerhard Kramer


Abstract: The ability to produce DNA sequence has dramatically increased since the 2001 announcement of the human genome sequence. This lecture will survey a few of the algorithmic and statistical estimation issues in this area. The volume of raw sequence reads from which genomes must be estimated has caused a shift from the computational methods used in the Human Genome Project. Those methods have been used and improved since the mid 1970s. A new approach reduced computation time, but required much more memory. This result brought about new memory reduction techniques. At the same time, traditional sequence comparison methods used since the early 1970s have in part been replaced by so-called alignment-free methods.

Biography: Michael Waterman, PhD, University Professor, University of Southern California. Professor of Biological Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics. Prof. Waterman also holds an Endowed Associates Chair at USC. Prior to his arrival at USC in 1982, Prof. Waterman held positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Idaho State University. He has a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Oregon State University, and a PhD in Statistics and Probability from Michigan State University. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow (1995), was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995), and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2001). Also, Prof. Waterman is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He has held visiting positions at the University of Hawaii (1979-80), the University of California at San Francisco (1982), Mt. Sinai Medical School (1988), Chalmers University (2000), and in 2000-2001 he held the Aisenstadt Chair at the University of Montreal. In fall 2000 he became the first Fellow of Celera Genomics. In 2002 he received a Gairdner Foundation International Award and in 2005 he was elected to the French Académie des Sciences.

During 2003-2008, Professor Waterman held a 5-year term as Faculty Master of Parkside International Residence College. PIRC is a residential college that is home to over 600 undergraduates and serves as a center for internationally oriented cultural, academic and social events. Beginning May 2008, in addition to his USC appointment, Michael Waterman became Chair Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He leads a team of distinguished scientists who will collectively work to enhance Tsinghua's programs in bioinformatics and computational biology.

Professor Waterman works in the area of Computational Biology, concentrating on the creation and application of mathematics, statistics and computer science to molecular biology, particularly to DNA, RNA and protein sequence data. He is the co-developer of the Smith-Waterman algorithm for sequence comparison and of the Lander-Waterman formula for physical mapping. He is a founding editor of the Journal of Computational Biology, is on the editorial board of seven journals and the author of Introduction to Computational Biology: Maps, Sequences and Genomes and is a co-author of the text Computational Genome Analysis: An Introduction.

Andrea Goldsmith

Stephen Harris Professor, Stanford University

To Infinity and Beyond: New Frontiers in Wireless Information Theory

Thursday, July 3, 2014, 08:30 - 09:30
Chair: Urbashi Mitra


Abstract: Although wireless information theory has been declared dead many times over, the field today is thriving with abundant open problems of significant theoretical and practical importance. This talk will explore our recent results on wireless information theory that go towards infinity in the number of users, and back from infinity in other dimensions. In particular, we will describe our work on achievable rate regions for single-hop networks with any number of users, obtained through user virtualization followed by coding via a graphical Markov model. The resulting achievable rate regions meet or exceed all existing rate regions for any single-hop network, including those of interference channels, broadcast channels, and cognitive radio channels. Moving back from infinity, we examine the implications of finite delay, energy, feedback, and sampling with a particular focus on our results unveiling rate-distortion theory and channel capacity for sub-Nyquist sampled sources and channels. We end the talk describing additional dreams and challenges in wireless information theory, including the application of information-theoretic analysis tools to explore new frontiers in biology and neuroscience.

Biography: Andrea Goldsmith is the Stephen Harris professor in the School of Engineering and a professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. She was previously on the faculty of Electrical Engineering at Caltech. She co-founded and served as CTO of Accelera, Inc. and of Quantenna Communications, Inc. and has also held industry positions at Maxim Technologies, Memorylink Corporation, and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Dr. Goldsmith is a Fellow of the IEEE and of Stanford, and she has received several awards for her work, including the IEEE Communications Society and Information Theory Society joint paper award, the IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award, the National Academy of Engineering Gilbreth Lecture Award, the IEEE ComSoc Communications Theory Technical Achievement Award, the IEEE ComSoc Wireless Communications Technical Achievement Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal's Women of Influence Award. She is author of the book "Wireless Communications" and co-author of the books "MIMO Wireless Communications" and "Principles of Cognitive Radio," all published by Cambridge University Press.

She received the B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Goldsmith has served as editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, the Journal on Foundations and Trends in Communications and Information Theory and in Networks, the IEEE Transactions on Communications, and the IEEE Wireless Communications Magazine as well as on the Steering Committee for the IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications. She participates actively in committees and conference organization for the IEEE Information Theory and Communications Societies and has served on the Board of Governors for both societies. She has also been a Distinguished Lecturer for both societies, served as President of the IEEE Information Theory Society in 2009, founded and chaired the student committee of the IEEE Information Theory Society, and chaired the Emerging Technology Committee of the IEEE Communications Society. At Stanford she received the inaugural University Postdoc Mentoring Award and has been active in committees to innovate and revise both graduate and undergraduate education university-wide. She served as Chair of Stanford's Faculty Senate in 2009 and currently serves on its Faculty Senate and on its Budget Group.

P. Vijay Kumar

Tata Chem Chaired Professor, Indian Institute of Science

Codes for Distributed Storage -- Asking More of an Old Friend

Friday, July 4, 2014, 08:30 - 09:30
Chair: Alexander Barg


Abstract: Given the explosive growth in the amount of data that keeps getting generated and the inescapable mortality of a storage device, there is renewed interest within the storage industry in identifying techniques that will enable data to be stored in a manner that is efficient, reliable and which provides easy access to the data. Codes for distributed storage place data across nodes in a network in a redundant fashion and are designed precisely with these objectives in mind. This talk will focus on two recent approaches to code design that attempt to overcome the shortcomings of prevalent coding schemes that are based either on replication or the use of Reed-Solomon codes.

The first approach makes use of a class of codes known as regenerating codes, where the emphasis is on low storage overhead and minimization of the amount of data download needed for the repair of a failed node. Codes employed under the second approach are termed as locally repairable codes and here, the focus is on sharply reducing the number of nodes accessed during node repair. Both approaches call for additional structure within a block code and introduce new performance measures. We will overview these recent exciting developments in coding theory highlighting some of the innovative ideas that have been put forward, discuss applications, and make connections with other research topics of interest to the information-theory community.

Biography: P. Vijay Kumar received his B.Tech degree from IIT Kharagpur in 1977, his M.Tech degree from IIT Kanpur in 1979 and the Ph.D. degree from USC in 1983, all in electrical engineering. Between 1983-2003, he was a full-time faculty member of the EE-Systems Department of USC. Since 2003, he has been at the Indian Institute of Science where he is currently chairman of the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering as well as holder of the TATA Chem Chaired Professorship. Since 2010, he has also concurrently held the title of Adjunct Researcher Professor at USC. From 1993-96 Professor Kumar was an Associate Editor for Coding Theory for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. A 1994 paper co-authored by him showed that the apparent linear behavior of the nonlinear, binary Kerdock and Preparata codes could be explained by showing these codes to be images under the Gray map, of a pair of linear and dual Z4 codes. For this work, he received the 1994 USC School-of-Engineering's Senior Research Award as well as the 1995 IEEE Information Theory Society's Prize Paper Award.

His other notable research results include co-authoring a low-complexity construction of algebraic-geometric codes achieving the Gilbert-Varshamov bound, the first explicit construction of space-time codes achieving the diversity-multiplexing gain tradeoff, as well as explicit constructions of optimal codes for distributed storage. His research interests also include wireless sensor networks where he is co-recipient of a best paper award at the Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems (DCOSS 2008). His most recent work deals with codes for distributed storage and on this topic, a recent paper co-authored by him, was awarded the IEEE Data Storage Best Paper/Best Student Paper Award of 2011/2012.

A pseudorandom sequence family designed in a 1996 paper co-authored by him, now forms the short scrambling code of the 3G WCDMA cellular standard. He is an IEEE Fellow and on the ISI list of highly cited authors. He has been on the Board of Governors of the IEEE Information Theory Society since 2013 and is a TPC Co-Chair of the upcoming 2015 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory to be held in Hong Kong.