President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that electrical engineering professor Solomon Golomb will receive the National Medal of Science, which is the highest honor for scientific innovation.
The Viterbi School of Engineering professor will receive the honor for his work in shift register sequences at a White House ceremony on Friday.
Golomb is one of 12 scientists and engineers receiving the award this year. Since the inception of this award in 1959, 400 people have received this accolade. Golomb’s work has helped to further both the fields of mathematics and communication.
Golomb began his academic career at Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree before he turned 19. He went on to complete his doctorate and earned his master’s degree in mathematics at Harvard.
Golomb began working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab at Caltech, where he worked with and mentored Andrew Viterbi, the namesake of the Viterbi School and previous winner of the National Medal of Science.
Golomb has previously been awarded the USC Presidential Medallion, the National Security Agency Director’s medal, the Hamming Medal and the IEEE Shannon Award of the Information Theory Society.
Shift register sequences are series of zeroes and ones that are used in everything from cell phone systems to space communications. In addition to this invention, Golomb is also known for inventing Cheskers — a variant of Checkers — and pentominoes, the inspiration for the popular game Tetris. The Golomb Ruler, commonly used in astronomy, is named for him.