Robert W. Lucky

Robert W. Lucky
Robert W. Lucky
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Associated organizations
Bell Labs
Fields of study


Robert W. Lucky was born on 9 January 1936 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Purdue University, where he received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1957, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1959 and 1961, respectively. After graduation, Lucky joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey, where, initially, he was involved in studying ways of sending digital information over telephone lines. The best known outcome of this work was his invention of the adaptive equalizer, a technique for correcting distortion in telephone signals which is used in all high speed data transmission today. The textbook on data communications which he co-authored became the most cited reference in the communications field over the period of a decade.

At Bell Labs, Dr. Lucky moved through a number of levels to become Executive Director of the Communications Sciences Research Division in 1982, where he was responsible for research on the methods and technologies for future communication systems. In 1992, he left Bell Labs to assume the position of Corporate Vice-President of Applied Research at Bellcore, Red Bank, New Jersey.

Lucky has been active in professional associations. He has served on the IEEE Board of Directors as Vice President-Publications and Executive Vice President. He also has served as President of the IEEE Communications Society. He has been editor of several technical journals, including the Proceedings of the IEEE, and since 1982 he has written the bimonthly "Reflections" column of personalized observations about the engineering profession in Spectrum magazine. in 1993, these "Reflections" columns were collected in the IEEE Press book Lucky Strikes ... Again.

Lucky is a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a consulting editor for a series of books on communications through Plenum Press. He has served on the advisory boards or committees of many universities and government organizations, and was Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the United States Air Force from 1986-1989. He was the 1987 recipient of the prestigious Marconi International Fellowship for his contributions to data communications. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Purdue University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has also been awarded the Distinguished Civilian Contributions Medal of the U.S. Air Force, and the IEEE Edison Medal in 1995 "For an extraordinary career in telecommunications providing visionary technical leadership, support of his profession, and compelling public advocacy of technology."

Lucky is a frequent speaker before both scientific and general audiences. He has been an invited lecturer at approximately 100 universities, and has been the guest on a number of network television broadcasts, including the Bill Moyers public television series "A World of Ideas' " where he discussed the impacts of future technological advances. He is the author of the popular book Silicon Dreams, which is a semi-technical and philosophical discussion of the ways in which both humans and computers deal with information.

Robert Lucky and his wife, Joan, currently reside in New Jersey.

Further Reading

Robert Lucky Oral History