IEEE Awards Booklet - 2016 - 15

2016 ieee medals

IEEE Medal of Honor
Sponsored by the IEEE Foundation

g. david Forney, Jr.

For pioneering contributions to the theory of error-correcting codes
and the development of reliable high-speed data communications.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, G. David Forney, Jr., has
influenced virtually every major advance in the field of coding
theory, providing practical solutions that have enabled high-speed
data communications for systems ranging from wired to wireless
and from electrical to optical. Forney introduced concatenated
codes in 1965 as error-correcting codes constructed of two or
more simpler codes to achieve good performance with reasonable complexity in detecting and fixing errors during data transmission. His concatenated method became widely used for space
communications, and the approach is widely practiced today
for satellite communications, mobile telephony, and digital video broadcasting. Forney joined Codex Corporation to develop
practical implementations of coding theory, where he designed
the first coding system to go into space-a convolutional code
with sequential decoding for a NASA Pioneer deep-space mission in 1968. Considered the founder of the modern modem, in
1970 Forney brought quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM)
to the marketplace by designing the first high-speed [9,600 bits
per second (bps)] QAM telephone-line modem.This became the
foundation of Codex's commercial success, and it revolutionized
the industry, providing the foundation for the international V.29
9,600 bps modem standard.
Forney also introduced the now universally used concept of
trellis diagrams to describe the Viterbi algorithm, and he is considered the first to recognize the Viterbi algorithm as an opti-

mum sequence detector rather than just a proof technique. His
Forney algorithm (FA) is employed by all practical decoders for
Reed-Solomon (RS) codes for computing error values after
error locations in a received code word have been determined.
The FA continues to be widely used in many physical-layer
transmission systems and optical/magnetic storage devices,
which employ RS coding for outer-layer error control. Another important contribution by Forney is the minimum-phase
whitened matched filter for maximum-likelihood sequence decoding of modulation symbols in the presence of intersymbol interference and noise. When turbo codes were introduced
in 1993, Forney demonstrated that they could be described
as "codes on graphs." In 2001, with what are now known as
"Forney-style factor graphs," he showed that one graph can simultaneously describe both a code and its dual, which provides
for new, efficient decoding algorithms. Forney continues to
contribute to error-correcting coding techniques with recent
work focusing on tail-biting trellis realizations using Forneystyle factor graphs.
An IEEE Life Fellow and member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and U.S. National Academy of Sciences,
Forney is currently an adjunct professor with the Department of
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Scope: For an exceptional contribution or an extraordinary career in IEEE fields of interest.
15 | 2016 IEEE AWARDS BooKLET



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Awards Booklet - 2016

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