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Leonard Kleinrock to receive 2012 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal

Leonard-KleinrockLeonard Kleinrock, distinguished professor of computer science at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and applied science, who is considered one of the fathers of the Internet for his development of packet-switching networks, a key driver of Internet technology, is being honored by IEEE with the 2012 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association.

The medal, sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, recognizes Kleinrock for pioneering contributions to modeling, analysis and design of packet-switching networks. The award will be presented on 30 June 2012 at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in Boston, Mass.

Kleinrock’s groundbreaking contributions to computer networks began during the early 1960s as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a solution to handling the burst-like nature of computer data transmission and the resulting inefficiencies experienced because of it, Kleinrock developed the mathematical theory of packet-switching networks. Packet switching involves packaging data into specially formatted units, or packets, that identify the sender and the intended recipient. Compared to traditional circuit-switching technology, packet switching offers more efficient use of computer bandwidth and equipment. Packet switching enables shared use of a machine through routing and queuing of the data, utilizing the computer when it would otherwise be idle if dedicated to only one user. Kleinrock’s work provided the theory upon which the Internet exists today.

Kleinrock transferred his theory to practical deployment at UCLA through the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) predecessor of the Internet, known as ARPANET. Kleinrock’s group at UCLA Engineering was a leader in the development and deployment of ARPANET. Kleinrock’s host computer at UCLA Engineering became the very first node of ARPANET in September 1969, and Kleinrock supervised the transmission of the first message ever sent over the Internet (to Stanford Reseach Institute) in October 1969.

Kleinrock’s group at UCLA Engineering continued to evaluate design and performance issues as ARPANET grew during the 1970s. He was able to prove that packet-switched networks could provide highly efficient data communications and would not fail in a full-scale deployment. This work was instrumental in persuading the U.S. Government to fund Internet development.

During the 1970s, Kleinrock recognized that wireless technologies would be a key component of the Internet. He performed research on packet radio networks, packet satellite networks and wireless access networks. His pioneering packet radio work provided the foundation for today’s wireless cellular communications, WiFi and 3G/4G mobile computing technologies. Kleinrock’s recent work has focused on nomadic computing, which aims to provide users with consistent mobile access to their home or business computer networks any time they are away from their desktop environments. And today’s emerging “cloud computing” platforms, where computing services are provided on-demand much like traditional utilities, were predicted by Kleinrock back in 1969.

An IEEE Life Fellow and Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, Kleinrock is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His honors include the Ericsson Prize (1982), the Marconi Prize (1986), the NAE Draper Prize (2001) and the Okawa Prize (2001). He also received the 2007 National Medal of Science, the highest honor for achievement in science bestowed by the President of the United States. Kleinrock received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.