Hisashi Kobayashi's Blog

Sherman Fairchild University Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Princeton University

2005 Eduard Rhein Award Ceremony

Photo taken at the Eduard Rhein Technology Award Ceremony.

2005 Eduard Rhein Award Ceremony:

The ceremony of the 2005 Eduard Rhein Awards took place on October 15, 2005 at the Ehrensaal (Hall of Fame) of the Deutsche Museum (German Museum of Science and Technology), Munich, Germany. Among the 300 invited guests were representatives from universities, research institutions, electronics industries, and governments. The Ehrensaal, inaugurated in 1925, is a beautiful pantheon decorated with portraits of Gauss and other great scientists, and busts of Einstein and others. The ceremony began with ensemble music, and several speeches by distinguished guests.  A bronze medal, a certificate and an honorarium were given to each awardee in the presence of Prof. Rolf Garz, Managing Chairman of the Eduard Rhein Foundation, named after the late Eduard Rhein (1900-­1993), an inventor, author of many nonfiction books. Previous awardees include Claude Shannon, Richard Hamming, Andrew Viterbi, Tim Berners-Lee, Norman Abramson and many other well-known experts in the field of information science and technology.

On the previous day, October 14, 2005, a special colloquium was held at the Technical University of Munich hosted by Prof. Joachim Hagenauer. Our talk “35 Years of Progress in Digital Magnetic Recording” by Drs. François Dolivo, Evangelos Eleftheriou and myself was presented.

More about our contributions and some additional photos taken at the award ceremony can be found at:

The Foundation: http://www.eduard-rhein-stiftung.de/html/2005/T2005_e.html

IBM Zurich Laboratory: http://www.zurich.ibm.com/news/05/rhein.html

My acceptance speech is given below:

Dankesworte: Hisashi Kobayashi

“Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Gartz, Herr Dr. Goppel und Herr Dr. Hickl,

sehr geehrte Mitglieder des Kuratoriums der Eduard Rhein Stiftung,

sehr geehrte Ehrengäste, meine Damen und Herren:

Es ist mir eine grosse Ehre und Auszeichnung, heute hier sein zu dürfen, um diesen höchst angesehen Technologie Preis entgegenzunehmen, der von Herrn Eduard Rhein vor nahezu dreissig Jahren gestiftet worden ist.

Besonders erfreulich ist es für mich, dass ich für meine früheste Arbeiten, die etwa fünfunddreissig Jahre zurückliegen, in dieser aussergewöhnlichen Weise ausgezeichnet werde.

(Professor Gartz, Dr. Goppel and Dr. Hickl,

Members of the Board of the Eduard Rhein Foundation,

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my great honor and privilege to be here today to receive this prestigious Technology Award endowed by the late Mr. Eduard Rhein almost 30 years ago. It is especially gratifying to be recognized in this significant way for my earliest work done 35 years ago.)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Donald Tang, a former colleague of mine at the IBM Research Center at Yorktown Heights, New York, who introduced me to the coding problem of digital recording. He is the coauthor of my 1970 paper in which we characterized the recording system as mathematically equivalent to a special type of data transmission channel, called “partial response channel”, which led to our joint invention to increase the recording density.

My special acknowledgment goes to Dr. Andrew Viterbi at the University of California at Los Angeles at that time, who introduced me to the efficient algorithm for maximum likelihood decoding of convolutional codes, now widely known as the Viterbi algorithm. An application of the basic principle of his algorithm to the partial-response system led to the second part of my invention. In many ways I was very lucky. I happened to be the first person that looked at a magnetic recording system from the communication theory point of view. Furthermore, I met the right people at the right place and at the right moment.

I would like to express my greatest gratitude to my co-recipients Dr. Francois Dolivo and Dr. Evangelos Eleftheriou, and their coworkers at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory and at IBM’s Storage Technology Division, Rochester Minnesota. As the famous American inventor Thomas Edison eloquently put it, “A genius (which I interpret as the effort for a significant invention) is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” As a former research manager, I am fully aware how difficult it is to solve all kinds of technical challenges faced in the effort to implement a seemingly simple idea into a working system. It also requires, more often than not, diplomatic and yet tenacious efforts to persuade the product division to accept our prototype system. Thus, were it not for their diligent and persistent efforts by Dr. Dolivo and his team, my theoretical concept would not have been put into practice, as we witness today.

I would also like to express my special thanks to our nominator. There are many worthy inventions and theoretical achievements that deserve recognitions. Only those who are fortunate enough to have their gracious colleagues make time-consuming effort for nominations will have the privilege of receiving recognitions like this Award.

Finally, I thank my late parents and my wife, Masae, who have been the greatest supporters of my effort as a student and then as a researcher.

Vielen herzlichen Dank für Ihre geschätzte Aufmerksamkeit.

(Thank you very much for your kind attention).”

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