Robert Calderbank

Charles S. Sydnor Distinguished 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 Distinguished Professor of Computer Science
  • Professor of Computer Science
  • Director of the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke
  • Professor of Mathematics
  • Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 140 Science Drive, 317 Gross Hall, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: +1 919 613 7874
  • Email Address:


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

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Elected Member. American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 2022
  • Fellow (NAI). National Academy of Inventors. 2014
  • Richard W. Hamming Medal. Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 2013
  • Fellow. American Mathematical Society. 2013
  • AAAS Fellows. American Association for the Advancement of Science, The. 2012
  • Membership. National Academy of Engineering. 2005
  • Highly Cited Researcher. Thomson Reuters. 2001
  • Fellows. Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 1998

Courses Taught

  • MATH 590-02: Advanced Special Topics in Mathematics
  • MATH 501: Introduction to Algebraic Structures I
  • MATH 494: Research Independent Study
  • MATH 393: Research Independent Study
  • MATH 391: Independent Study
  • ECE 891: Internship
  • ECE 590: Advanced Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • ECE 483: Introduction to Digital Communication Systems
  • COMPSCI 393: Research Independent Study

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Nguyen, Duc Minh, Robert Calderbank, and Nikos Deligiannis. “Geometric Matrix Completion With Deep Conditional Random Fields.” IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems 31, no. 9 (September 2020): 3579–93.
  • Beirami, A., R. Calderbank, M. M. Christiansen, K. R. Duffy, and M. Medard. “A Characterization of Guesswork on Swiftly Tilting Curves.” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 65, no. 5 (May 1, 2019): 2850–71.
  • Michelusi, N., M. Nokleby, U. Mitra, and R. Calderbank. “Multi-Scale Spectrum Sensing in Dense Multi-Cell Cognitive Networks.” IEEE Transactions on Communications 67, no. 4 (April 1, 2019): 2673–88.
  • Vahid, A., and R. Calderbank. “Throughput region of spatially correlated interference packet networks.” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 65, no. 2 (February 1, 2019): 1220–35.
  • Zhu, W., Q. Qiu, J. Huang, R. Calderbank, G. Sapiro, and I. Daubechies. “LDMNet: Low Dimensional Manifold Regularized Neural Networks.” Proceedings of the IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, December 14, 2018, 2743–51.