Athanasios Papoulis

Athanasios Papoulis
Athanasios Papoulis
Associated organizations
Polytechnic Institute of New York
Fields of study
Signal processing
IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal


Athanasios Papoulis earned diplomas in Mechanical Engineering (1941) and Electrical Engineering (1942) from the Polytechnic Institute of Athens. At the University of Pennsylvania he earned the MS in EE in 1947; the MS in Mathematics in 1948 and the Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1950.

Dr. Papoulis taught at the University of Pennsylvania during 1946 to 1951, and at Union College in 1951 to 1952. He has been a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York (formerly Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn) since 1952. He has been a visiting professor at the Darmstadt Technische Hochschule, W. Germany (1960); the University of California at Los Angeles, California (1964); and Stanford University, California (1965). He also presented lecture series at the Ferrari Institute, Italy (1973) and at the Universities ofBarcelona and Madrid, Spain (1976, 1979).

Dr. Papoulis held a National Science Foundation Science Faculty Fellowship in 1960; was elected an IEEE Fellow in 1965; and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Gold Medal, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973.

The world is most aware of Professor Papoulis through his text books, translated into many languages, which are indicative of his devotion to teaching. They illustrate his unique ability to take a difficult subject and extract the basic ingredients to make explanations which are clear and comprehensible.

In "The Fourier Integral" he gives some of the first simple explanations of how the delta function can be used to resolve the difficulties in Fourier Transforms caused by discontinuities in signals.

Some fifteen years after its publication, his text "Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes," designated as a Citation Classic by the Institute of Scientific Information, was still used as a text in most MSEE programs.

"Systems and Transforms with Applications to Optics" anticipated the growing need for understanding of Fourier techniques in image processing and optical communications.

"Signal Analysis" and "Circuits and Systems," have influenced both graduate and undergraduate education throughout the world.

His efforts in the 1950's to modernize undergraduate electrical engineering curricula had a wide influence through the texts that he and his colleagues wrote in the Brooklyn Poly Series. During the 1960's, he was a prime force in developing a special honors program for gifted undergraduates.

Dr. Papoulis has also authored over 80 research articles spanning such diverse areas as theoretical physics, mathematics, physical electronics, instrumentation, circuit theory, optics, systems, control, information theory and statistics.

Dr. Papoulis had an unforgettable ability to hold the attention of the audience in a class or lecture through a unique dramatic style in presenting meticulously prepared lectures, and in frequent provocative questioning of those fortunate to be seated in the first row. His enthusiastic discussions of fundamental principles, style and curriculum organization have revealed to many graduate students and junior faculty the intellectual challenges and satisfaction of the teaching profession.

Professor Papoulis lived in Lloyds Neck, New York. His wife Caryl and their five children shared interests in music, theater, tennis, and folk dancing.