By Jamie Beckett, Dec. 2006
Abraham Lempel, co-author of a widely used data-compression algorithm, has received the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, presented for exceptional contributions to information sciences, systems and technology.
Lempel, who is director of the Advanced Studies Program at HP Labs and of HP Labs Israel, was cited for his "pioneering work in data compression, especially the Lempel-Ziv (LZ) algorithm." The algorithm, published in its original form by Lempel and Jacob Ziv in 1977, is a universal lossless data-compression technique.
This seminal work is used in almost every storage and communication medium and, in 2004, was proclaimed an IEEE milestone for enabling data transmission via the Internet in an efficient way.
The IEEE award is named for Dr. Richard W. Hamming, who had a central role in the development of computer and computing science. His contributions in information science include his error-correcting codes.
Lempel, an HP Senior Fellow, has received numerous honors for his work. He received the Golden Jubilee Award for Technological Innovation from the IEEE Information Theory Society in 1998 and the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award from the Association for Computing Machinery, awarded the same year. He has been an IEEE Fellow since 1982.
Lempel received his BSc, MSc, and DSc degrees from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. He has been on the faculty of Technion for more than three decades. He became a full professor there in 1977, was chairman of the department of computer science from 1981 to 1984, and held the Erna and Andrew Viterbi Chair in Information Systems.
Lempel's association with HP Labs began in 1984 when he visited the Palo Alto headquarters during a sabbatical. In 1994, he became the founding director of HP Labs Israel. He remains associated with Technion as emeritus professor.
Lempel has published over 70 papers in refereed journals and holds eight U.S. patents. His principal research interests are in the application of discrete mathematics to problems in computer science and information theory.