Logo: University of Southern California

Golomb Named Distinguished Professor

Mentor of Viterbi School Namesake Wins Further Distinction
Eric Mankin and Pamela Johnson
January 28, 2008 —
A record of distinction: Golomb
Solomon W. Golomb has added to what may be USC's longest list of faculty honors with his appointment January 17 as Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics.

Provost C.L. Max Nikias made the appointment, acting on a recommendation of a committee of distinguished and university professors.

 "Sol is one of the greatest living American scientists," said Viterbi School Dean Yannis Yortsos. "He has enriched our university and our school immensely. I congratulate him on his latest honor."

The title of “distinguished professor” is awarded to faculty members who have brought special renown to the university through their accomplishments. “University professor” is conferred on faculty members whose multidisciplinary interests and major accomplishments in several disciplines qualify for an appointment that transcends any single field of study.

Golomb, who also has an appointment in the LAS department of mathematics. has been a University Professor since 1993. In 1976, Golomb became USC’s first faculty member to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering and in 1985, he received the USC Presidential Medallion. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Golomb received the 2000 Richard W. Hamming Gold Medal of the IEEE, for outstanding contributions to communications and the Claude E. Shannon Award, the highest honor for those making consistent and profound contributions in the field of information theory. Among his more than 250 publications are epoch-making papers and monographs in 50 distinguishable subject areas of science and engineering.

Before arriving at USC in 1963, Golomb earned his bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University and master’s and doctorate at Harvard University.

He was a researcher and research supervisor in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology, during which time his JPL team bounced a radar signal off Venus — the first such contact with another planet. Fifty years ago, he was part of the JPL team that launched Explorer I, the nation’s first successful Earth satellite. His team pioneered the entire field of space communications, and was at the forefront of digital communications.

At JPL, Golomb met Andrew J. Viterbi, who subsequently came to USC for graduate study, and after co-founding Qualcomm, later endowed the Viterbi Chair of Engineering that Golomb now holds, and went on to give his name to the USC School of Engineering.

In mathematics, Golomb has made major contributions to combinatorial analysis, geometry, number theory and abstract algebra, including cyclotomy. His work on pseudo-random numbers has had profound impact in many fields of communications, from radar to cell phones. He is also internationally known for his interest in mathematical games and puzzles.