Andrew Viterbi

Andrew Viterbi

Recognizing his work on a groundbreaking piece of software, the National Academy of Engineering awarded Andrew J. Viterbi the 2016 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering.

The organization announced the award, which comes with a $500,000 prize, on Jan. 5.

Viterbi, a co-founder of both Linkabit and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), is scheduled to receive the award Feb. 16 at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C.

Viterbi developed the Viterbi algorithm as a method for enhancing error-correcting code used in telecommunication.

According to the academy, his publication of the algorithm in the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory in 1967 “helped to usher in the age of cell phones by focusing on only the most likely computing paths for telecommunication signals, ultimately making it easier to eliminate static in transmissions.”

The Viterbi algorithm was later applied to cable, DSL modems, Ethernet and spacecraft communication.

An academy statement said the award recognizes development of the Viterbi algorithm, “its transformational impact on digital wireless communications and its significant applications in speech recognition and synthesis and in bioinformatics.”