Around 1940, engineers working on communication systems encountered a new challenge: How can one preserve the integrity of digital data, where minor errors in transmission can have catastrophic effects? The resulting theories of information (Shannon 1948) and error-correcting codes (Hamming 1950) created a ``marriage made in heaven'' between mathematics and its applications. On the one hand emerged a profound theory that could measure information and preserve it under a variety of errors; and on the other hand the practical consequences propelled telephony, satellite communication, digital hardware and the internet. Prof. Madhu Sudan will give a brief introduction to the history of the mathematical theory of communication and then describe some of his work in this area that focus on efficient algorithms that can deal with large amounts of error, and on communication when sender and receiver are uncertain about each other's context.
Prof. Madhu Sudan received his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from IIT Delhi in 1987 and his doctoral degree in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1992. He was a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York from 1992 to 1997 and moved to MIT after that. Since June 2009, he's been at Microsoft Research New England as a permanent researcher. Prof. Sudan was awarded the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize at the 24th International Congress of Mathematicians in 2002, in recognition of his outstanding work in the mathematical aspects of Computer Science. He received the Gödel Prize in 2001. He is a Fellow of the ACM (2008). In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Prof. Sudan has made significant contributions to several areas of Theoretical Computer Science, including probabilistically checkable proofs, non-approximability of optimization problems, list decoding, and error.