As a child, Andrew Viterbi and his family fled Italy for America escaping the persecution of the Jews. He went on to cofound Qualcomm and invented the Viterbi Algorithm, which is used in almost every cellular phone today, digital satellite broadcast receivers, and in voice recognition. Everyone around the world is somehow affected by this algorithm. The Viterbi family’s longstanding partnership with Technion was sealed this past year with a transformational gift that will guarantee Israel’s preeminent role in the global high-tech arena.
The Faculty of Electrical Engineering has been named for Prof. Andrew Viterbi and his late wife, Erna. The plaque bearing the new name of the Faculty was unveiled in December at a festive ceremony at Technion with the participation of Prof. Viterbi, his son Alan and daughter-in-law Caryn, Prof. Peretz Lavie, the Technion management, and leading alumni; followed by the dedication of the Erna Finci Viterbi Plaza. A brilliant scientist, entrepreneur and corporate leader who has forever changed how people everywhere connect and communicate, Andrew Viterbi is the inventor of the Viterbi algorithm – a mathematical formula underlying the operation of most of today’s mobile devices.
The Viterbi algorithm enables quick and accurate decoding of many simultaneous signals and helps neutralize signal interference. The mathematical formula is used in all four international standards for digital mobile phones, as well as in data terminals, digital satellite broadcast receivers and deep space telemetry. The algorithm is also used in DNA analysis and identification software. Together with his late wife, Erna Finci, Prof. Viterbi has a long history of support for the Technion and the State of Israel.
They are Guardians of the Technion, a designation reserved for those who have reached the highest level of support. The Viterbi gifts to the Technion include the Andrew J. and Erna F. Viterbi Chair in Information Systems/Computer Science; Computech – the Andrew and Erna Finci Viterbi Center for Advanced Studies in Computer Technology; the Andrew and Erna Finci Viterbi Fellowship Program; and the Viterbi Family Foundation Faculty Recruitment Program. Over the past twenty years, Technion alumni have been responsible for the establishment and management of more than 1,600 companies that have led to the creation of one hundred thousand jobs; around 35% of these companies were founded by EE alumni.