Frank Kschischang

Frank R. Kschischang received the B.A.Sc. degree (with honours) from the University of British Columbia in 1985 and the M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto in 1988 and 1991, respectively, all in Electrical Engineering. He is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, where he has been a faculty member since 1991. During 1997/98, he was a visiting scientist at MIT, Cambridge, MA; in 2005 he was a visiting professor at the ETH, Zurich, and in 2011 and again in 2012/13 he was a visiting Hans Fischer Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Technical University of Munich.

Professor Kschischang's research interests are focused on the area of digital communication systems, with the aim of developing and improving the efficient and reliable communication systems that enable today's modern digital economies. More specifically, his research is focussed on developing novel error-correcting coding techniques that can be applied in wireline systems (for example, cable and telephone systems), wireless systems (for example, cellular radio systems), and optical networks (for example, the fiber-optic backbone of the Internet). Professor Kschischang's work lies at the intersection of engineering, mathematics, and physics, and often requires deep knowledge of all three.

Professor Kschischang has made numerous seminal research contributions. In the late 1990s he co-invented the so-called “factor graph", a graph-theoretic description of a probability distribution, that enables computationally efficient Bayesian inference through the sum-product algorithm. Factor graphs and the sum-product algorithm are now a standard tool widely used throughout machine learning, signal processing, and digital communications. The paper in which factor graphs were introduced has been cited over 4200 times, and a Google search of the term “factor graph" returns over 80,000 hits.

Professor Kschischang's award-winning work in the mid-2000s on so-called “subspace codes" for network coding has also attracted much attention from engineers and mathematicians. In this work, Kschischang and his co-author, Ralf Koetter, gave a construction of codebooks of vector spaces that provided an elegant solution to the problem of error-control in communication systems using random linear network coding. The invention of these (now-called) “KK codes" has inspired a great deal of follow-up work, particularly in mathematics, as the algebraic-geometry based framework of KK codes provides an interesting, yet practically relevant, generalization of classical coding theory.

Together with a doctoral student, Mansoor Yousefi, Professor Kschischang's recent work on the nonlinear optical-fiber channel is already attracting significant interest as a potential breakthrough in improving the data-transmission efficiency of optical fibers. The key insight here is the use of a nonlinear Fourier transform that effectively “diagonalizes" the channel described by the nonlinear Schrodinger equation, enabling a host of new approaches to data transmission.

Professor Kschischang research contributions in these and many other areas have led to significant national and international recognition. In 1999 he was a recipient of the Ontario Premier's Excellence Research Award and in 2001 (renewed in 2008) he was awarded the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Communication Algorithms at the University of Toronto. In 2010 he was awarded the Killam Research Fellowship by the Canada Council for the Arts. Jointly with Ralf Koetter he received the 2010 Communications Society and Information Theory Society Joint Paper Award. He is a recipient of the 2012 Canadian Award in Telecommunications Research, awarded biennially to a leading researcher in the field. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), of the Engineering Institute of Canada, and of the Royal Society of Canada.

From 1997-2000, Professor Kschischang served as an Associate Editor for Coding Theory for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, the top journal in his field. Since mid-December 2013, he has served as this journal's Editor-in-Chief. He also served as technical program co-chair for the 2004 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT), Chicago, and as general co-chair for ISIT 2008, Toronto. He served as the 2010 President of the IEEE Information Theory Society.

Professor Kschischang is a very popular teacher. He has received six departmental teaching awards, the 2006 Faculty Teaching Award from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, and the 2010 Faculty Award from the University of Toronto. Professor Kschischang's leadership in developing a so-called “flexible curriculum" in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto was recognized with a departmental Service Award in 2007.