Profile of Jack Wolf

2008 Viterbi Lecture

Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering


“From Edison to Viterbi”


Jack Wolf
CMRR Endowed Chair, Professor Emeritus
University of California, San Diego



Communications and storage are very similar fields. In the first, information is transmitted from “here to there” and in the second, information is transmitted from “then to now.” The techniques used in one are relevant to the other and recently the two fields are merging. In this talk we will follow the progress of audio storage from Edison to MP3 players. The talk will include live demonstrations of original Edison phonographs and a discussion of Edison’s career and some fundamental mistakes he made that caused him to lose the market. The talk will conclude with a discussion
of how Viterbi detection played a key role in the evolution of audio recording.

Presentation (PDF)

Listen to the Lecture


Jack Keil Wolf received the B.S.E.E. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and the M.S.E., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University. He has been teaching for more than 40 years. He is currently the Stephen O. Rice Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a member of the Center for Magnetic Recording Research at the University of California-San Diego, La Jolla. He also holds a part-time appointment at Qualcomm, Inc., San Diego.

Dr. Wolf is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received several IEEE awards including: the 1990 E. H. Armstrong Achievement Award, the 1993 Leonard G. Abraham Prize Paper Award (co recipient), the 1975 IEEE Information Theory Group Prize Paper Award (co recipient), the 1998 IEEE Koji Kobayashi Award, the 2001 Claude E. Shannon Award, the 2004 IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, and the 2007 Aaron D. Wyner Distinguished Service Award. He held an NSF Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Published on June 26th, 2017

Last updated on August 2nd, 2023