The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Engineering to Bernard Widrow, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, for pioneering work in adaptive signal processing. Adaptive systems have the ability to learn and improve their behavior through interaction with their environments. Dr. Widrow developed the least mean squared (LMS) algorithm, which is a computationally facile means of finding the optimal weight vector for suppressing unknown noise. For example, every high-speed modem contains an adaptive filter or automatic equalizer based on the Widrow-Hoff LMS algorithm. Such a telephone channel equalizer makes it possible for computers to communicate at high speed (such as for the internet) over regular telephone lines, which were never intended for this purpose. Dr. Widrow was amongst the first to publish a general theory of adaptive antennas, including space-time processing. His adaptive learning algorithms made artificial neural networks possible. His latest invention is a directional hearing aid.
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