Viterbi Lecture

The Viterbi Lecture is named for Andrew Viterbi, the legendary communications figure who helped open the doors to the digital age with the Viterbi Algorithm, an original mathematical formula for eliminating signal interference.

Today, his algorithm is used in all four international standards for digital cellular telephones, as well as in data terminals, digital satellite broadcast receivers and deep space telemetry.

Lecture Archive



2017 Speaker

Dr. Peter Shor,

Morss Professor of Applied Mathematics, MIT

“Capacities for Quantum Communication Channels”

Date: Thursday, March 9, 2017
Reception: 3pm, EEB Courtyard
Lecture: 4pm, Location: EEB 132

In 1948, Shannon discovered his famous formula for the capacity of a communication channel. This formula does not apply, however, to channels with significant quantum effects. For quantum channels, the question of capacity is much more complicated, as there are different capacities for sending classical information and for sending quantum information. We will discuss the capacities of quantum channels, and survey the historical development of the subject.


Peter Shor received a B.S. in Mathematics from Caltech in 1981, and a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from M.I.T. After a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, he took a job at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and stayed at AT&T until 2003.  In 2003, he went to M.I.T., where he is the Morss Professor of Applied Mathematics.

Until 1994, he worked on algorithms for conventional computers and did research in probability and combinatorics. In 1994, after thinking about the problem on and off for nearly a year, he discovered an algorithm for factoring large integers into primes on a quantum computer (still hypothetical, but steadily becoming less so). Since then, he has mainly been investigating quantum computing and quantum information theory.

Among other awards, he has received the Nevanlinna Prize, the Goedel prize, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences.