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Gottfried Ungerboeck co-recipient of 1997 Australia Prize

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Canberra, Australia/Zurich, Switzerland, 11 Feb 1997—The Australia Prize, which has helped boost Australia's stocks in world science, is a prestigious international award given by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia for outstanding achievements in a selected area of science and technology promoting human welfare, this year for major contributions in telecommunications.

The Australian Science and Technology Minister Peter McGauran announced the three winners of this year's Australia Prize today. They are Allan Snyder of the Australian National University, Rodney Tucker of the University of Melbourne, and IBM Fellow Gottfried Ungerboeck of IBM Research - Zurich. They will share a cash award of $A 300,000.

"All three scientists, two Australians and one Austrian, have played a pivotal role in establishing the modern international telecommunications network. Take away the contribution of any of them and the network would be inferior," Mr McGauran said. "Professor Snyder, Head of the Australian National University's Optical Sciences Centre, confounded the sceptics and gave industry access to ground-breaking technology by providing the cornerstone research for the optical fibre telecommunications network. In developing laser technology to increase the network's carrying capacity by ten-fold, Professor Tucker, Director of Melbourne University's Photonics Research Laboratory, produced results previously only dreamed of. And without Dr Ungerboeck of IBM Research - Zurich in Switzerland, and his invention of a coding system which enables high-speed transmission between computer modems, the telecommunications revolution would have stalled long ago. They are, all three, giants of telecommunications research and very deserving of the Australia Prize," Mr McGauran said.

The 1997 Australia Prize was presented by the Australian Prime Minister John Howard at a formal ceremony held in Canberra on February 11, 1997.

The work of Gottfried Ungerboeck

Gottfried Ungerboeck's system, originally invented for coding data for transmission between computer modems, has had a major impact on world telecommunications. The coding system he developed in the late 1970s is now used in most systems for modern information transmission, for example, in telephone modems, in satellite and terrestrial wireless systems, for digital audio and TV broadcasting, in digital subscriber loops designed for gaining access to the Internet and other services via conventional telephone copper wires at megabit-per-second rates, and so forth. The system, called trellis-coded modulation (TCM), enables reliable data transmission over telephone lines and other transmission media at far higher speeds than was ever thought possible. Within years of its emergence, TCM became an industry standard. It was first recommended in 1984 by the International Telecommunications Union for use in high-speed telephone modems.

The Australia Prize is the latest award for the outstanding work of Gottfried Ungerboeck who was named an IBM Fellow, the highest internal recognition for a scientist, in 1984, and an IEEE Fellow in 1985. His most recent distinctions include an honorary doctoral degree from the Technical University in Vienna in 1993, the 1994 IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, the 1994 Eduard Rhein Prize for Basic Science together with A.J. Viterbi, and the 1996 Marconi Fellowship Award.

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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