Thomas Kailath

Thomas Kailath
Thomas Kailath
Poona, India
Associated organizations
Stanford University
Fields of study
Shannon Award, IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal, IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal, IEEE Medal of Honor


In a career spanning more than 40 years, Thomas Kailath has distinguished himself with significant accomplishments as a scholar, academic and entrepreneur. Currently Hitachi America Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, at Stanford University, Dr. Kailath is a respected leader in digital signal processing and system theory. In addition to influencing modern work in semiconductor manufacturing and wireless communications, he has also mentored and personally trained several generations of electrical engineers and applied mathematicians.

Dr. Thomas Kailath was born on June 7, 1935, in Poona, India. Dating back to his early writings in the late 1950s, Dr. Kailath recognized that engineering theory would play a critical role in meeting technological challenges in the disciplines of communication, computation, control and signal processing. Since then, his theoretical work has led to fundamental breakthroughs in communications, information theory, signal detection and estimation, sensor array signal processing, VLSI architectures for signal processing and semiconductor manufacturing. He also contributed to probability and statistics, linear algebra, and matrix and operator theory.

He has written several books, authored or co-authored over 300 journal articles and papers, and shared in the development of 13 patents. Specific contributions by him and his over ninety Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars include algorithms for feedback communications, universal estimator-correlator detector structures for random signals in noise and the concept of displacement structure leading to fast algorithms in many fields, such as estimation, control, direction of arrival estimation, adaptive filtering, channel identification and equalization, VLSI systems for signal processing, matrix theory and linear algebra. Much of his early work outpaced what could be implemented at the time. As technology advanced, Dr. Kailath and his students were able to successfully address industrial issues in areas such as optical lithography and multiple antenna wireless communications.

An IEEE Life Fellow, he is a past president of the IEEE Information Theory Society and a recipient of its Shannon Award. Other honors include - IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr, Education and the IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medals, Guggenheim and Churchill fellowships, and election to the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Engineering and the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame. In 2007 he received the IEEE Medal of Honor “For exceptional development of powerful algorithms in the fields of communications, computing, control and signal processing."

Dr. Kailath received his bachelor’s from the College of Engineering in Pune, India, and a master’s and doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has also received many honorary degrees.

Dr. Kailath is also the co-founder of several high-technology companies, three of which are now public: Intergrated Systems, Inc., Numerical Technologies, and Excess Bandwidth Corporation.


Further Reading

Thomas Kailath Oral History