The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Information and Communication Technologies goes to Thomas Kailath. “Kailath has developed broad and fundamental engineering knowledge with transformative impact on the information and communication technologies that permeate everyday life. These pioneering developments laid the mathematical foundations enabling solutions to challenging problems in communications, control, integrated circuits, and signal processing.
Among Kailath’s many contributions, he discovered how structure in systems of equations could be systematically determined, analyzed, and used in computations. This led to fast and accurate algorithms for computations used in a host of modern applications including wireless communications, data compression, VLSI design and control systems. Kailath also developed the underlying theory for the printing of integrated circuits with dimensions much finer than the wavelength of the illuminating light source, which had been viewed as a fundamental barrier to Moore’s law.
The progression of information and communication technology would have significantly slowed down around this barrier without Kailath’s contribution. Broadly speaking, Kailath discovered and illuminated threads and connections among diverse fields, creating a fundamental and transcendent understanding that led to a wealth of insights and solutions to formerly intractable engineering problems.
Not only did Kailath develop the theoretical foundations that transcended many fields of electrical engineering, he was also a pioneer in repeatedly developing technologies based on deep theory, and founding companies to transfer these technologies to industry. Kailath’s contributions, which allow us to solve much larger systems of equations, tackle much more ambitious simulations, build much more effective communication systems, and design much better circuits, have significantly advanced the frontiers of information and communication technology.”