G. David Forney, Jr., presently an adjunct professor at MIT, will be recognized for his contributions to the data communications field with the 2016 IEEE Medal of Honor, the institute’s highest award.
After graduating from Princeton in 1961 with a BSE in electrical engineering, Forney received a Sc.D. from MIT and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, both in 1965. He then joined the Codex Corporation, a startup to exploit error-correcting codes. Highlights of his career at Codex include designing the first coding system to go into space and the first high-speed QAM telephone-line modem, which became an international modem standard. Forney became vice president of research and development and was a director when Codex was acquired by Motorola in 1977. He stayed on, becoming the information systems group vice president and vice president of the technical staff, retiring in 1999. Forney has taught at MIT since 1996.
Forney has authored prize-winning papers on theory, coding, modulation and equalization, and has been an active member and leader of IEEE, serving twice as president of the IEEE Information Theory Society, for example. He is a fellow of IEEE and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences