Muriel Médard recognized for her network coding algorithms
The 2022 IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award was presented to Muriel Médard for her contributions to the theory and practice of network coding, optical networks and wireless communications, including recent work on a supposedly universal decoder increase the efficiency of AR devices and 5G.
This year’s International Computer Communications Conference was a virtual event, but it saw the usual array of awards, including the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Award, established in 1986 and named for Dr Koji Kobayashi, who played a leading role in advancing integrated use. computing and communications. Sponsored by NEC Corporation, it is awarded annually to an individual or a team of up to three individuals for outstanding contributions to computer and communications integration.
The recipient of this award on this occasion was Muriel Médard, Cecil H. Green Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Médard has made lasting contributions to network coding and wired, wireless, and optical communications, helping to enhance performance, reliability, and security in these areas. His work on an algebraic approach to network coding (known as the Médard/Koetter framework) made network codes practical and easy to understand. Other important contributions to network coding include network coding for recovery and robustness, protection against wiretapping and outside attacks, and network coding for wireless relay networks. His work on practical wireless network coding has demonstrated that coding across different data streams in a wireless network improves the performance of congested networks by orders of magnitude over standard routing techniques. Médard has also made fundamental contributions to the restoration, security, reliability, robustness and capacity of high-speed optical networks.
We first reported on Medard’s accomplishments as head of the network coding group at MIT’s Electronics Research Laboratory in 2012 when she used network coding to boost the phone connection from 0.5 Mbps. at 13.5 Mbps.
A decade later, the Medard team, in a collaborative effort with Boston University and Maynooth University, has created a “universal decoder” – a silicon chip that eliminates the need for a custom decoding hardware to detect signal errors. The chip uses a new algorithm called GRAND for guessing random additive noise decoding that was developed by the MIT team with Ken Duffy of Maynooth University. The GRAND chip eliminates the need for code-specific decoders and enables universal decoding that quickly cycles through all plausible noise patterns. It can process a high volume of data with low latency and should increase the efficiency of devices that process large volumes of data such as augmented and virtual reality devices, gaming systems, and 5G networks.
Medard commented IEEE Spectrum that receiving the award was “quite amazing” because his work tends to be more theoretical. She likes to combine different areas because:
“there’s a wealth and a really cool set of things you can do in between. Once you have seen certain types of techniques and certain ways of thinking [from other fields], you cannot unlearn them. The price really seemed like a validation of this approach.”
Medard was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2018. This honor is given to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation by creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have had a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and social well-being.
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