Muriel Médard has been appointed as the Cecil H. Green Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In announcing this appointment, Department Head Anantha Chandrakasan shared the following message with his EECS colleagues.
The Green Chair is a fitting memorial to Cecil Green, who passed away on April 11, 2003 at age 102. Sir Cecil Green earned the SB and SM in Electrical Engineering at MIT. In addition to founding Texas Instruments, he partnered with his wife Ida in extraordinary philanthropic activity. Professor Médard is an ideal candidate for this professorship, given her outstanding technical contributions and leadership in communications, signal processing and information theory. The honor of being a Cecil H. Green Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is also held by Prof. Jacob White.
Muriel leads the Network Coding and Reliable Networking Group at RLE. The primary applications of her research are in the area of wireless communications, in which she won an IEEE-wide paper award in 2002. She went on with her students and other coauthors to demonstrate outstanding results in network coding, which bridges coding, information theory and networking. Network coding borrows from linear algebra, transmitting linear combinations of packets rather than the originals, acknowledging on the degrees of freedom of the set of linear combinations received rather than on receipt of individual packets. The flexibility afforded by coding in the network, without the need to reconstruct the original data, provides significant gains in throughput, reliability and security. This work was recognized with an NAE Gilbreth Lectureship in 2007 and two major IEEE prizes in 2009. She is a Fellow of IEEE and has won several conference paper awards.
One of the main contributions of Muriel’s group and her collaborators is the recognition that codes can be built in simple randomized and distributed ways, while maintaining optimality with high probability. This technique, dubbed random linear network coding (RLNC), has spawned considerable follow-on work internationally, both in academia and industry, in diverse application areas such as data transport, video distribution, cloud storage, and wireless transmission, and serves as the technological basis for several start-ups. Her group’s and her collaborators’ recent work on integrating RLNC with TCP, a standard means of managing Internet data transport, has shown how the flexibility of RLNC allows its integration into traditional protocols. Her group also implemented RLNC in a low-power integrated circuit.
Muriel is an outstanding mentor and received the EECS Graduate Student Association Mentor Award last year. She has demonstrated tremendous leadership in her research areas, having served as the President of the IEEE Information Theory Society and editor for several journals, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal on Special Areas in Communications. She served as undergraduate housemaster for many years, served on and chaired the Institute Faculty Committee on Student Life, and co-chaired the Institute Task Force on Student Life. Muriel teaches several graduate courses, including 6.450 (Principles of Digital Communication) and an advanced course on network coding. She has given her course at several international venues.