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Ericsson Endows Chair at UCSD

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SAN DIEGO, Nov. 24 -- A longtime faculty member and leading expert in digital communication theory will be the first holder of a new chair at the University of California, San Diego funded by telecomunications giant Ericsson. Professor Laurence Milstein will occupy the Ericsson Endowed Chair in Wireless Communication Access Techniques.
“Professor Milstein has been an important force in the school for nearly 30 years,” said Frieder Seible, dean of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering. “This chair recognizes the tremendous impact he has had on more than 50 PhD students he has been mentoring over the years, many of whom have played critical roles in the migration of communications systems from analog to the digital realm in both industry and academic research.”

Milstein joined the UCSD faculty in 1976. He is a professor and former chairman of the Jacobs School’s electrical and computer engineering department and was previously a professor of electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The new chair -- the 21st at the Jacobs School -- is one of two endowed chairs and two faculty fellowships to be provided by Ericsson through its corporate commitment to the UCSD division of Calit2 (a partnership of UCSD and UC Irvine).

“Larry has significantly contributed to wireless communication, in particular the area of CDMA and interference suppressing receivers,” says Stefan Parkvall, senior specialist at Ericsson Research and a former postdoctoral researcher in Milstein’s lab in 1996-97. “The theoretical foundation in this area is very important for Ericsson to provide high-performance cellular networks, and interference handling will become increasingly important in future systems as the user data rate increases.”   

“When the IEEE honored Larry Milstein in 2000 with its Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award, the organization cited his seminal technical contributions in spread spectrum and CDMA wireless communications for commercial and military systems,” said Ramesh Rao, director of Calit2’s UCSD division and a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Jacobs School. “He has been a prolific source of new ideas in wireless communications, and based on his current research agenda, we look forward to many more great ideas coming out of his lab.”

Milstein typically serves as an advisor to between 15 and 20 doctoral students and a handful of master’s degree candidates. He says the biggest advantage of holding the endowed chair is the extra funding that will go to support those graduate students. “I don’t expect the Ericsson chair to change my research qualitatively,” he said. “But quantitatively, the Ericsson chair is a tremendous opportunity to fund students who I couldn’t have sponsored otherwise.” Milstein’s work in digital communications theory has focused on spread-spectrum wireless technologies. “I believe that the name of the endowed chair recognizes my work in code division multiple access which goes back to its early days as primarily a military technology,” said Milstein.

Most of the support received by Milstein over the years has come from the Pentagon – notably the Office of Naval Research and Army Research Office – and from consulting with defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Hughes. More recently he has worked on potential commercial uses of spread spectrum technologies, with funding members of UCSD’s Center for Wireless Communications and from Ericsson.

Although his work is theoretical, Milstein’s area of expertise is the "physical" layer of communication. Milstein is the principal investigator on a four-year CDMA systems research project sponsored through Calit2 by Ericsson and the UC Discovery Grant program since 2002. He and fellow researchers are trying to design CDMA systems that are spectrally efficient when used in conjunction with both source coding and channel coding techniques.

Some of his working is shifting into new areas, including ultrawideband communications, multiple-input multiple-output systems and orthogonal frequency division modulation, a spread-spectrum technique that distributes the data over a large number of carriers that are spaced apart at precise frequencies. Milstein and several graduate students are also focusing on cognitive radio.

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Nov 2005
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