Robert Calderbank

Image of Robert Calderbank

Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Computer Science

Robert Calderbank is Director of the Information Initiative at Duke University, where he is Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics. He joined Duke in 2010, completed a 3 year term as Dean of Natural Sciences in August 2013, and also served as Interim Director of the Duke Initiative in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2012. Before joining Duke he was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics at Princeton University where he also directed the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics.


Before joining Princeton University Dr. Calderbank was Vice President for Research at AT&T. As Vice President for Research he managed AT&T intellectual property, and he was responsible for licensing revenue. AT&T Labs was the first of a new type of research lab where masses of data generated by network services became a giant sandbox in which fundamental discoveries in information science became a source of commercial advantage


At Duke, Dr. Calderbank works with researchers from the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, developing information technology that is able to capture a full spectrum of behavior in very young children. By supporting more consistent and cost-effective early diagnosis, the team is increasing the opportunity for early interventions that have proven very effective.


At the start of his career at Bell Labs, Dr. Calderbank developed voiceband modem technology that was widely licensed and incorporated in over a billion devices. Voiceband means the signals are audible so these modems burped and squeaked as they connected to the internet. One of these products was the AT&T COMSPHERE® modem which was the fastest modem in the world in 1994 – at 33.6kb/s!   


Together with Peter Shor and colleagues at AT&T Labs Dr. Calderbank developed the group theoretic framework for quantum error correction. This framework changed the way physicists view quantum entanglement, and provided the foundation for fault tolerant quantum computation.


Dr. Calderbank has also developed technology that improves the speed and reliability of wireless communication by correlating signals across several transmit antennas. Invented in 1996, this space-time coding technology has been incorporated in a broad range of 3G, 4G and 5G wireless standards. He served on the Technical Advisory Board of Flarion Technologies a wireless infrastructure company founded by Rajiv Laroia and acquired by Qualcomm for $1B in 2008.


Dr. Calderbank is an IEEE Fellow and an AT&T Fellow, and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005. He received the 2013 IEEE Hamming Medal for contributions to coding theory and communications and the 2015 Shannon Award.


Appointments and Affiliations
  • Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Computer Science
  • Professor of Computer Science
  • Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Professor of Mathematics
Contact Information:
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-7874
  • Email Address:

  • Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, 1980
  • M.S. Oxford University (U.K.), 1976
  • B.S. University of Warwick (England), 1975

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • Richard W. Hamming Medal. Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 2013
  • AAAS Fellows. American Association for the Advancement of Science, The. 2012
  • Membership. National Academy of Engineering. 2005
  • Fellows. Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 1998

Courses Taught:
  • COMPSCI 393: Research Independent Study
  • COMPSCI 394: Research Independent Study
  • COMPSCI 590: Advanced Topics in Computer Science
  • ECE 483: Introduction to Digital Communication Systems
  • ECE 590: Advanced Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • MATH 393: Research Independent Study
  • MATH 493: Research Independent Study
  • MATH 501: Introduction to Algebraic Structures I

Representative Publications: (More Publications)
    • Bajwa, WU; Duarte, MF; Calderbank, R, Conditioning of Random Block Subdictionaries With Applications to Block-Sparse Recovery and Regression, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, vol 61 no. 7 (2015), pp. 4060-4079 [10.1109/TIT.2015.2429632] [abs].
    • Harms, A; Bajwa, WU; Calderbank, R, Identification of Linear Time-Varying Systems Through Waveform Diversity, IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, vol 63 no. 8 (2015), pp. 2070-2084 [10.1109/TSP.2015.2407319] [abs].
    • Nokleby, M; Rodrigues, M; Calderbank, R, Discrimination on the Grassmann Manifold: Fundamental Limits of Subspace Classifiers, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, vol 61 no. 4 (2015), pp. 2133-2147 [10.1109/TIT.2015.2407368] [abs].
    • Harms, A; Bajwa, W; Calderbank, R, Efficient linear time-varying system identification using chirp waveforms, Conference Record of the Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers, vol 2015-April (2015), pp. 854-858 [10.1109/ACSSC.2014.7094572] [abs].
    • Liming, W; Carlson, DE; Rodrigues, MRD; Calderbank, R; Carin, L, A Bregman Matrix and the Gradient of Mutual Information for Vector Poisson and Gaussian Channels, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, vol 60 no. 5 (2014), pp. 2611-2629 [10.1109/TIT.2014.2307068] [abs].