Andrew J. Viterbi[1]
Photo of Andrew Viterbi
Andrea Giacomo Viterbi

(1935-03-09) March 9, 1935 (age 88)
Bergamo, Italy
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BS, MS)
University of Southern California (PhD)
Erna Finci
(m. 1958; died 2015)
Engineering career
InstitutionsUniversity of Southern California Board of Trustees
The Scripps Research Institute Board of Trustees, Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute
UC Los Angeles
UC San Diego
Linkabit Corporation
Qualcomm Inc.
The Viterbi Group
ProjectsViterbi algorithm
Significant advanceCode Division Multiple Access (CDMA) standard for cell phone networks
AwardsIEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal (1984)
Marconi Prize (1990)
Claude E. Shannon Award (1991)
National Medal of Science (2007)
IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal (2007)
Millennium Technology Prize (2008)
IEEE Medal of Honor (2010)
John Fritz Medal (2011)

Andrew James Viterbi (born Andrea Giacomo Viterbi, March 9, 1935) is an Italian Jewish–American electrical engineer and businessman who co-founded Qualcomm Inc. and invented the Viterbi algorithm. He is the Presidential Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering, which was named in his honor in 2004 in recognition of his $52 million gift.

Early life

Viterbi was born to an Italian Jewish family[2] in Bergamo, Italy and emigrated with them to the United States two years before World War II. His original name was Andrea, but when he was naturalized in the US, his parents anglicized it to Andrew.[citation needed]


Viterbi attended the Boston Latin School, and then entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1952, studying electrical engineering. He received both BS and MS in electrical engineering in 1957 from MIT. He was elected to membership in the honor society Eta Kappa Nu in 1956 through the MIT chapter.

He worked at Raytheon and later at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where he started working on telemetry for uncrewed space missions, also helping to develop the phase-locked loop. Simultaneously, he was carrying out PhD studies at the University of Southern California, where he graduated in 1963 in digital communications.[3]


This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libelous.Find sources: "Andrew Viterbi" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

After receiving his PhD, he applied successfully for an academic position at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Viterbi was later a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA and University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In 1967 he proposed the Viterbi algorithm to decode convolutionally encoded data. It is still used widely in cellular phones for error correcting codes, as well as for speech recognition, DNA analysis, and many other applications of Hidden Markov models. On advice of a lawyer, Viterbi did not patent the algorithm.[4] Viterbi also helped to develop the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) standard for cell phone networks.

Viterbi was the cofounder of Linkabit Corporation, with Irwin M. Jacobs in 1968, a small telecommunications contractor. He was also the co-founder of Qualcomm Inc. with Jacobs in 1985. As of 2003, he is the president of the venture capital company The Viterbi Group. He continues to be involved in wireless communications technology companies as a strategic advisor to Ingenu's board of directors.[5]

Virterbi was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1978.

Viterbi School of Engineering, west wall

In 1998 he was one of the few receiving a Golden Jubilee Award for Technological Innovation from the IEEE Information Theory Society. Viterbi earned it for "the invention of the Viterbi algorithm".[6] In 2002, Viterbi dedicated the Andrew Viterbi '52 Computer Center at his alma mater, Boston Latin School. On March 2, 2004, the University of Southern California School of Engineering was renamed the Viterbi School of Engineering in his honor, following his $52 million donation to the school.[7] He is a member of the USC board of trustees.[8]

He is also on the Board of Trustees at The Scripps Research Institute.

He is also founding member of ISSNAF (The Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation).

In 2005, he was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering.

In 2006, he was made an Eminent Member of Eta Kappa Nu.

Viterbi and Irwin M. Jacobs received the 2007 IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award, for "fundamental contributions, innovation, and leadership that enabled the growth of wireless telecommunications".[9]

In 2008, he was named a Millennium Technology Prize finalist for the invention of the Viterbi algorithm. At the award ceremony in Finland on June 11, 2008, he was awarded a prize of EUR 115,000 and the prize trophy "Peak" as a 2008 Millennium Technology Laureate.[10][11]

In September 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of Science for developing "the 'Viterbi algorithm', and for his contributions to Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless technology that transformed the theory and practice of digital communications".

In 2010, he received the IEEE Medal of Honor and in the same year he also received the IIC Lifetime Achievement Award by the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles. In 2011, he received the John Fritz Medal from the American Association of Engineering Societies.[12]

In 2013, Viterbi was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

In 2017, Viterbi, along with Irwin Jacobs, received the IEEE Milestone Award for their CDMA and spread spectrum development that drives the mobile industry.[13]

Viterbi's problem on the coincidence of PLL ranges

A. Viterbi analytically showed that for the first-order PLL model (filterless model) the three main ranges (hold-in, pull-in, lock-in ranges) coincide.[14]: 4–5 [15] Various conjectures (e.g., Egan's conjecture on the pull-in range of type II APLL) and estimates of the ranges of higher-order PLL models appeared based on this result, which led to the problem of determining the regions of the physical parameters of the PLL (parameters of the phase detector, filter, and voltage-controlled oscillator) where the ranges coincide. In the framework of mathematical control theory, this result is a development of the ideas of the possibility of determining the global behavior of a nonlinear system via linear analysis and various well-known conjectures on global stability (Kalman's conjecture and others) for a cylindrical phase space.

Personal life

Viterbi was married to Erna Finci (1934–2015),[16] who was a Jewish refugee from Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia.[17] Erna was a Shoah survivor. In 1941, during World War II, the Finci family fled German-occupied Yugoslavia for the Italian-occupied zone from which they were deported and interned in the Parma region of Italy. In 1943, when the Nazis occupied Italy, the family was saved from deportation to extermination camps by the people of Gramignazzo di Sissa, the village where they had been interned; they were cared for by the local Ponghellini family, who hid them in their vineyard when German forces advanced into Italy. Other Italians helped them escape to Switzerland, walking across the Alps, where they waited out the war.

They had three children, Alan Viterbi, Audrey Viterbi,[17] and Alexander Viterbi (who died in 2011 at age 40).[18]

See also


  1. ^ Dr. Andrew J. Viterbi Andrew Viterbi was elected in 1978 as a member of National Academy of Engineering in Electronics, Communication & Information Systems Engineering and Computer Science & Engineering
  2. ^ Marziali, Carl (February 1, 2009). "Andrew Viterbi: He's got algorithm". University of Southern California News.
  3. ^ Tekla S. Perry (30 April 2010). "2010 Medal of Honor Winner: Andrew J. Viterbi". IEEE.
  4. ^ Viterbi, Andrew (1999-10-29). "Andrew Viterbi, Electrical Engineer, an oral history" (Interview). Interviewed by David Morton. San Diego, California, United States: IEEE Global History Network. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  5. ^ "Ingenu Launches the US's Newest IoT Network". Light Reading.
  6. ^ "Golden Jubilee Awards for Technological Innovation". IEEE Information Theory Society. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  7. ^ "Engineer/Entrepreneur and wife make $52 million naming gift to USC" (Press release). University of Southern California (USC). Archived from the original on 3 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  8. ^ Board of Trustees Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine, University of Southern California, Retrieveded 2008-04-13.
  9. ^ "IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
  10. ^ Doug Lung (11 April 2008). "Andrew Viterbi Named Finalist for 2008 Millennium Technology Prize".
  11. ^ "2008 MILLENNIUM TECHNOLOGY LAUREATE ANDREW J. VITERBI FETED IN FINLAND". University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. 12 June 2008.
  12. ^ "Award Guide and Past Recipients". American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES). Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  13. ^ "Qualcomm and Its Founders Recognized for Historic Electronics Milestone". Times of San Diego. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  14. ^ Viterbi, Andrew J. (1959). Acquisition and tracking behavior of phase-locked loops (Report). Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.
  15. ^ Viterbi, Andrew J. (1966). Principles of Coherent Communications. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  16. ^ Vered Weiss, "Wife Of Qualcomm Founder, Philanthropist Erna Viterbi Dies At 81",, 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  17. ^ a b Marziali, Carl (Spring 2015). "In Memoriam: Philanthropist Erna Viterbi Dies at 81". University of Southern California News.
  18. ^ Kessler, Benett (November 10, 2011). "Mammoth man died from heart attack". Sierra Wave: Eastern Sierra News. Retrieved October 11, 2018.

Further reading

Awards and achievements Preceded byGerald J. Posakony John Fritz Medal 2011 Succeeded byLeslie E. Robertson Preceded byRobert H. Dennard IEEE Medal of Honor 2010 Succeeded byMorris Chang Preceded byHyman Bass National Medal of Science 2007 Succeeded byLeonard Kleinrock Preceded by(First) IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal 2007 Succeeded byTim Berners-Lee Preceded byThomas M. Cover Claude E. Shannon Award 1991 Succeeded byElwyn Berlekamp Preceded byRobert N. Hall Marconi Prize 1990 Succeeded byPaul Baran Preceded byStephen O. Rice IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal 1984 Succeeded byCharles K. Kao