Jacob Ziv


Jacob Ziv
Jacob Ziv
Tiberias, Israel
Death date
Associated organizations
Israel Ministry of Defense, MIT, Bell Labs, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Fields of study
IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, IEEE Medal of Honor


Jacob Ziv was born in Tiberias, Israel, on November 27, 1931. He received the B.Sc., Dip. Eng., and M.Sc. degrees, all in Electrical Engineering, from the Technion Israel Institute ofTechnology, Haifa, Israel, in 1954, and 1957, respectively, and the D.Sc. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (M.I.T.) Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1962. From 1955 to 1959, Dr. Ziv was a Senior Research Engineer in the Scientific Department, Israel Ministry of Defense, and was assigned to the research and development of communication systems. From 1961 to 1962, while studying for his doctorate at M.I.T., he joined the Applied Science Division of Melpar, Inc., Watertown, Massachusetts, where he was a Senior Research Engineer conducting research in communication theory.

In 1962, Dr. Ziv returned to the Scientific Department, Israel Ministry of Defense, as Head of the Communications Division, and was also an Adjunct of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. From 1968 to 1970, he was a Member of the Technical Staff of AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey. Dr. Ziv joined the Technion in 1970 and was Herman Gross Professor of Electrical Engineering. He was Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering from 1974 to 1976, and Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1978 to 1982.

In 1982, Dr. Ziv was elected Member of the Israeli Academy of Science, and was appointed as a Technion Distinguished Professor. He was a Fellow of the IEEE, and was the recipient of the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor. In 1988, he was elected as a Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. In 1993, he was awarded the Israel Prize in Exact Sciences (Engineering and Technology). He was the recipient of the IEEE Information Theory Best Paper Award (1976 and 1979), and was the recipient of the 1995 Marconi International Fellowship. From 1977 to 1978, 1983 to 1984, and 1991 to 1992, he was on Sabbatical leave at ATW Bell Laboratories. He has been the Chairman of the Israeli Universities Planning and Grants Committee from 1985 to 1991.

Dr. Ziv's research interests included general topics in data-compression, information theory and statistical communications. Among his numerous important contributions to information theory, Dr. Ziv has pioneered several contributions to the theory of the complexity of error-correcting codes. This work was the precursor of concatenated coding, an important branch of modern error-correcting coding theory. He has contributed to the derivation of the fundamental Ziv-Zakai bound on performance of parameter estimators: a useful design tool for communication engineers. Dr. Ziv was well known for his contributions to universal source coding (i.e. data compression for sources with unknown statistics). This was later developed into a complete and unique information theory for individual sequences and led to the invention and development of the Lempel-Ziv universal data compression algorithm, an IEEE Milestone, which is now widely in use.

Jacob Ziv and his wife, Shoshana, resided in Haifa, Israel. They have four children, Noam, Michal, Atai and Vered.

Further Reading

Jacov Ziv oral history