Robert Calderbank

  • Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Computer Science
  • Professor of Computer Science
  • Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Joint)
  • Professor of Mathematics (Joint)
  • Professor of Physics (Secondary)
  • Director of the Information Initiative at Duke
External address: 140 Science Drive, 317 Gross Hall, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: Campus Box 90984, 140 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 613-7874

Research Areas and Keywords

Algebra & Combinatorics
error-correcting codes, wireless communication, data storage, discrete harmonic analysis, sphere packing, algorithms, data compression, source classification, representation theory
detection and estimation, discrete harmonic analysis
Computational Mathematics
discrete harmonic analysis, algorithms
Number Theory
error-correcting codes, data storage, discrete harmonic analysis, sphere packing, algorithms, representation theory
Physical Modeling
wireless communications, data storage, detection and estimation
error-correcting codes, wireless communications, data storage, detection and estimation, algorithms, data compression, source classification
Signals, Images & Data
error-correcting codes, wireless communication, data storage, discrete harmonic analysis, algorithms, data compression, source classification

Robert Calderbank is Director of the Information Initiative at Duke University, where he is Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics. He joined Duke in 2010, completed a 3 year term as Dean of Natural Sciences in August 2013, and also served as Interim Director of the Duke Initiative in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2012. Before joining Duke he was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics at Princeton University where he also directed the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics.


Before joining Princeton University Dr. Calderbank was Vice President for Research at AT&T. As Vice President for Research he managed AT&T intellectual property, and he was responsible for licensing revenue. AT&T Labs was the first of a new type of research lab where masses of data generated by network services became a giant sandbox in which fundamental discoveries in information science became a source of commercial advantage


At Duke, Dr. Calderbank works with researchers from the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, developing information technology that is able to capture a full spectrum of behavior in very young children. By supporting more consistent and cost-effective early diagnosis, the team is increasing the opportunity for early interventions that have proven very effective.


At the start of his career at Bell Labs, Dr. Calderbank developed voiceband modem technology that was widely licensed and incorporated in over a billion devices. Voiceband means the signals are audible so these modems burped and squeaked as they connected to the internet. One of these products was the AT&T COMSPHERE® modem which was the fastest modem in the world in 1994 – at 33.6kb/s!   


Together with Peter Shor and colleagues at AT&T Labs Dr. Calderbank developed the group theoretic framework for quantum error correction. This framework changed the way physicists view quantum entanglement, and provided the foundation for fault tolerant quantum computation.


Dr. Calderbank has also developed technology that improves the speed and reliability of wireless communication by correlating signals across several transmit antennas. Invented in 1996, this space-time coding technology has been incorporated in a broad range of 3G, 4G and 5G wireless standards. He served on the Technical Advisory Board of Flarion Technologies a wireless infrastructure company founded by Rajiv Laroia and acquired by Qualcomm for $1B in 2008.


Dr. Calderbank is an IEEE Fellow and an AT&T Fellow, and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005. He received the 2013 IEEE Hamming Medal for contributions to coding theory and communications and the 2015 Shannon Award.


Education & Training
  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology 1980

  • M.S., Oxford University (U.K.) 1976

  • B.S., University of Warwick (England) 1975

Oak Ridge National Lab GO Program awarded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2019

SHF:Small:Using Coding Theory to Optimize the Representation of Information in Computer Architecture awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2018

ORNL/Duke Collaboration and Program Development awarded by Oak Ridge National Labs (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2017

Wide-Area Persistent Energy-Efficient Maritime Sensing awarded by Office of Naval Research (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2016

Discovery of Empirical Components by Information Theory, Random Matrix Theory, and Computational Topology awarded by Princeton University (Co-Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2016

X-Ray Scatter and Phase Imaging for Explosive Detection awarded by US Department of Homeland Security (Co-Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2015

Photon-limited Sensing and Surveillance awarded by Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2014

Calderbank, R, and Jafarpour, S. "Finding needles in compressed haystacks." Compressed Sensing: Theory and Applications. January 1, 2009. 439-484. Full Text

Wang, L, Chen, M, Rodrigues, M, Wilcox, D, Calderbank, R, and Carin, L. "Information-Theoretic Compressive Measurement Design." IEEE transactions on pattern analysis and machine intelligence 39.6 (June 2017): 1150-1164. Full Text

Campbell, K, Carpenter, KLH, Espinosa, S, Hashemi, J, Qiu, Q, Tepper, M, Calderbank, R, Sapiro, G, Egger, HL, Baker, JP, and Dawson, G. "Use of a Digital Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers - Revised with Follow-up to Improve Quality of Screening for Autism." The Journal of pediatrics 183 (April 2017): 133-139.e1. Full Text

Thompson, A, Robles, FE, Wilson, JW, Deb, S, Calderbank, R, and Warren, WS. "Dual-wavelength pump-probe microscopy analysis of melanin composition." Scientific reports 6 (November 11, 2016): 36871-. Full Text

Vahid, A, and Calderbank, R. "Two-User Erasure Interference Channels With Local Delayed CSIT." IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 62.9 (September 2016): 4910-4923. Full Text

Sokolic, J, Renna, F, Calderbank, R, and Rodrigues, MRD. "Mismatch in the Classification of Linear Subspaces: Sufficient Conditions for Reliable Classification." IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 64.12 (June 2016): 3035-3050. Full Text

Qiu, Q, Thompson, A, Calderbank, R, and Sapiro, G. "Data Representation Using the Weyl Transform." IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 64.7 (April 2016): 1844-1853. Full Text

Huang, J, Qiu, Q, and Calderbank, R. "The Role of Principal Angles in Subspace Classification." IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 64.8 (April 2016): 1933-1945. Full Text

Carpenter, KLH, Sprechmann, P, Calderbank, R, Sapiro, G, and Egger, HL. "Quantifying Risk for Anxiety Disorders in Preschool Children: A Machine Learning Approach." PloS one 11.11 (January 2016): e0165524-. Full Text

Bajwa, WU, Duarte, MF, and Calderbank, R. "Conditioning of Random Block Subdictionaries With Applications to Block-Sparse Recovery and Regression." IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 61.7 (July 2015): 4060-4079. Full Text

Nokleby, M, Rodrigues, M, and Calderbank, R. "Discrimination on the Grassmann Manifold: Fundamental Limits of Subspace Classifiers." IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 61.4 (April 2015): 2133-2147. Full Text


Hadani, R, Rakib, S, Tsatsanis, M, Monk, A, Goldsmith, AJ, Molisch, AF, and Calderbank, R. "Orthogonal time frequency space modulation." May 10, 2017. Full Text

Reboredo, H, Renna, F, Calderbank, R, and Rodrigues, MRD. "Bounds on the Number of Measurements for Reliable Compressive Classification." November 15, 2016. Full Text

Renna, F, Wang, L, Yuan, X, Yang, J, Reeves, G, Calderbank, R, Carin, L, and Rodrigues, MRD. "Classification and Reconstruction of High-Dimensional Signals From Low-Dimensional Features in the Presence of Side Information." November 2016. Full Text

Kumar, S, Calderbank, R, and Pfister, HD. "Beyond double transitivity: Capacity-achieving cyclic codes on erasure channels." October 21, 2016. Full Text

Mappouras, G, Vahid, A, Calderbank, R, and Sorin, DJ. "Methuselah flash: Rewriting codes for extra long storage lifetime." September 29, 2016. Full Text

Nokleby, M, Beirami, A, and Calderbank, R. "Rate-distortion bounds on Bayes risk in supervised learning." August 10, 2016. Full Text

Wang, L, Renna, F, Yuan, X, Rodrigues, M, Calderbank, R, and Carin, L. "A general framework for reconstruction and classification from compressive measurements with side information." May 18, 2016. Full Text

Beirami, A, Calderbank, R, Christiansen, M, Duffy, K, Makhdoumi, A, and Medard, M. "A geometric perspective on guesswork." April 4, 2016. Full Text

Vahid, A, Shomorony, I, and Calderbank, R. "Informational bottlenecks in two-unicast wireless networks with delayed CSIT." April 4, 2016. Full Text


In this composite photograph, a hidden portrait under the Vincent van Gogh painting ''Patch of Grass'' from 1887, is seen.

With math equations that analyze brush strokes, new discoveries about the world's greatest art are possible. It took X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and a painting algorithm to reveal the hidden portrait of a peasant underneath the painting of... read more »