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9 Dec 2020

Professor Raymond Yeung Receives IEEE 2021 Richard W. Hamming Medal

9 Dec 2020

Professor Raymond Yeung

Professor YEUNG Wai-ho Raymond, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Information Engineering, and Co-Director of the Institute of Network Coding, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has been named the recipient of the IEEE 2021 Richard W. Hamming Medal for his fundamental contributions to information theory and pioneering network coding and its applications. This is one of the highest honours in electrical and electronics engineering. It is the first time this award has been won by an Asian researcher since its establishment in 1988. It is also the first time that home grown research in this area has been recognised at this level. 

Professor Raymond Yeung is a world-renowned expert in information theory and a co-founder of the field of network coding. In the early 1990s, he was invited to participate in a project of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for salvaging the malfunctioning Galileo spacecraft. The 25-bit synchronization marker he designed was used for transmitting back to Earth the images of Jupitar and its satellites taken by the spacecraft. Since 2010, he has been a Co-Director of the Institute of Network Coding at CUHK, the largest engineering research project ever funded in Hong Kong, with the total budget exceeding HKD100M.

Information inequalities are an indispensable tool for proving theorems in information theory. For a long time, Shannon-type inequalities were all the known information inequalities. In the mid-1990s, Professor Yeung contemplated the existence of non-Shannon-type inequalities and discovered with his collaborator the first such inequality which is now known as the Zhang-Yeung inequality. This groundbreaking work proves the incompleteness of Shannon-type inequalities. In addition to information theory, this finding has significant implications in different fields in information sciences, mathematics, and physics.

Professor Yeung also co-founded the field of network coding. In the late-1990s, he proposed the concept of network coding that revolutionised network communication. In the past, information was transmitted in a network very much like commodity flow, with the intermediate nodes relaying data packets passively. Simply speaking, with network coding, by applying coding to data packets inside the network, more information can be transmitted through the network. In practice, this means people can download data faster, watch video streaming with less delay, and communicate more securely on the Internet.

Professor Yeung has co-founded n-hop technologies, a startup company in Hong Kong Science Park that focuses on BATS, a network coding technology that solves the longstanding problem of packet loss in wireless multi-hop communication. Currently they are applying this technology to provide WiFi service at country parks that are not well covered by the cellular network. With this service, hikers can use mobile devices for navigation, accessing weather information, uploading pictures to social media, and even emergency calls. Professor Yeung has also co-founded CU Coding, another startup company that focuses on network coding data storage and physical-layer network coding.

Professor Yeung is the author of two textbooks on information theory and network coding that have been adopted by over 100 universities around the world. The paper he co-authored that founded the field of network coding has received close to 10,000 citations on Google Scholar. In 2014, he offered the first online course in information theory that attracted 25,000 students. Since then, the course has been offered regularly on Coursera and other platforms.

Professor Yeung has received numerous awards for his research contributions, including the 2018 ACM SIGMOBILE Test-of-Time Paper Award and the 2016 IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award. He is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences, and IEEE. He holds 10 patents on BATS codes.

About IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal

IEEE Medals are the highest awards presented by the IEEE. The IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, established in 1986, is named in honor of Dr. Richard W. Hamming, who had a central role in the development of computer and computing science, and whose many significant contributions in the area of information science include his error-correcting codes. It is awarded to an individual or team for exceptional contributions to information sciences, systems, and technology.

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Professor Raymond Yeung