IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021 - 19

2021 IEEE MEDALS

IEEE Medal of Honor
Sponsored by the IEEE Foundation

Jacob Ziv

For fundamental contributions to information theory and data compression technology, and
for distinguished research leadership

An international icon of information theory, Jacob Ziv's innovative tools for practical data compression enable the fast and efficient transfer of files over the Internet we now take for granted
and revolutionized how we store information. Ziv is best known
for his development, with Abraham Lempel, of the Lempel-Ziv
(LZ) algorithms. The LZ algorithms changed the way communications and data storage and processing systems are conceived and
have had an immense impact on the daily lives of computer users
and on the operations of commercial electronic products worldwide. The advancements in computing and communications
technology continuously pose extremely severe demands on storage, bandwidth, and transmission speed, and LZ compression has
played a pivotal role in meeting these demands, making the use
of lossless data compression pervasive in day-to-day computing.
Prior to the LZ algorithms, data compression methods were
centered on communication sources with known stochastic
structure. However, in the real world, communication channels
and sources often fail to have such structure. The first practical
error-free compression algorithm, the Huffman code, was not
computationally efficient and required knowledge of the statistics
of the data to be compressed, which prevented real-time processing. Ziv's algorithms allowed for data compression and channel
coding without a known probabilistic structure. Rather than trying to measure the source statistics of a given source sequence,
and then encoding both the measured statistics and the actual
sequence, the LZ algorithms encode the source sequence directly in a way that automatically compresses where possible. This
would become central to what is now called universal compression, and Ziv's accomplishments spurred much subsequent research on universal algorithms.
When the LZ algorithms were developed, their practical impact was not felt right away because there was no real need for
data compression for communication. They were used in the late

1970s for magnetic decoding, but it wasn't until the Internet began to emerge that their importance was realized. LZ is now an
integral part of the classical communication algorithms used for
error-free and fast transmission of data over the Internet.
Ziv has also made seminal contributions to lossy compression-most notably his 1976 work with Aaron Wyner in which
they established the optimal rate for lossy compression with side
information at the decoder. It is considered a standard tool in
multiterminal information theoretic models spanning beyond
source coding (for example, communications aided by relays).
Other classical contributions relate to performance bounds, such
as the Ziv-Zakai bound on the minimum mean square error,
which is one of the tightest to date, decades after its original derivation. He also has made notable contributions addressing basic
theoretical problems of practical importance, such as classification
problems and universal procedures in source and channel coding/decoding. His recent contributions have focused on different
aspects and fundamental ingredients of classification and universal
data compression.
Ziv has been a leading figure in the Israeli engineering and
scientific community, including at the Technion - Israel Institute
of Technology, where he assembled one of the world's top faculties in the information sciences. He has also served as president
of the Israel National Academy of Sciences. In addition to his
many research contributions, Ziv has mentored countless young
researchers in many fields, both at the Technion and through the
IEEE Information Theory Society, serving as a source of wisdom
and common sense cherished by so many.
An IEEE Life Fellow and Foreign Associate Member of both
the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the U.S. National
Academy of Science, Ziv is the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty
of Electrical Engineering Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

Scope: For an exceptional contribution or an extraordinary career in IEEE fields of interest.

19 | 2021 IEEE AWARDS BOOKLET

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IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021

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IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021 - Cover1
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IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021 - 1
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IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021 - Table of Contents
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IEEE Awards Booklet - 2021 - Cover3
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