Robert Calderbank

Robert Calderbank
  • Charles S. Sydnor Distinguished Professor of Computer Science
  • Professor of Computer Science
  • Director of the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke
  • Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Joint)
  • Professor of Mathematics (Joint)
  • Professor of Physics (Secondary)
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 (United Kingdom) 1976

  • B.S., University of Warwick (United Kingdom) 1975

Chen, M., et al. “Communications inspired linear discriminant analysis.” Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Machine Learning, Icml 2012, vol. 1, Oct. 2012, pp. 919–26. Open Access Copy

Bajwa, W. U., et al. “Two are better than one: Fundamental parameters of frame coherence.” Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis, vol. 33, no. 1, July 2012, pp. 58–78. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.acha.2011.09.005. Full Text

Applebaum, L., et al. “Asynchronous code-division random access using convex optimization.” Physical Communication, vol. 5, no. 2, June 2012, pp. 129–47. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.phycom.2011.09.006. Full Text

Zeng, M., et al. “On design of rateless codes over dying binary erasure channel.” Ieee Transactions on Communications, vol. 60, no. 4, Apr. 2012, pp. 889–94. Scopus, doi:10.1109/TCOMM.2012.022712.110038. Full Text

Carson, W. R., et al. “Communications-inspired projection design with application to compressive sensing.” Siam Journal on Imaging Sciences, vol. 5, no. 4, Jan. 2012, pp. 1182–212. Scopus, doi:10.1137/120878380. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gomaa, A., et al. “On training signal design for multi-user MIMO-OFDM: Performance analysis and tradeoffs.” Ieee Vehicular Technology Conference, Dec. 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1109/VETECF.2011.6092844. Full Text

Calderbank, R., et al. “Covering radius and the Restricted Isometry Property.” 2011 Ieee Information Theory Workshop, Itw 2011, Dec. 2011, pp. 558–62. Scopus, doi:10.1109/ITW.2011.6089564. Full Text

Simpson, M. J., et al. “Imaging the distribution of melanin in human skin lesions with pump-probe microscopy.” Optics Infobase Conference Papers, Dec. 2011.

Chi, Y., et al. “MMSE-optimal training sequences for spectrally-efficient Multi-User MIMO-OFDM systems.” European Signal Processing Conference, Dec. 2011, pp. 634–38.

Wu, Y., et al. “Capacity optimization in networks with heterogeneous radio access technologies.” Globecom  Ieee Global Telecommunications Conference, Dec. 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1109/GLOCOM.2011.6134226. Full Text


Calderbank, A. R. “Binary covering codes and high speed data transmission.” Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Including Subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), vol. 514 LNCS, 1991, pp. 319–36. Scopus, doi:10.1007/3-540-54303-1_143. Full Text