Contact: Bob Nelson For immediate release
(212) 854-6580 April 15, 1998
Note to editors: Vinton Cerf will be available to answer reporters'
questions at 4:30 P.M. today, April 15, in the Faculty Room of Low
Memorial Library on the Columbia campus, West 116th Street
between Broadway and Amsterdam.
Vinton G. Cerf, Architect of the Internet,
Awarded 1998 Marconi Fellowship
$100,000 Prize Is Premier Award in Telecommunications;
Cerf Sees "Intelligent Agents" Automating Vital Tasks
Vinton G. Cerf, senior vice president of Internet
architecture and engineering at MCI Communications Corp.,
will receive the $100,000 Marconi International Fellowship,
awarded by the Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship
Foundation located at Columbia University.
Dr. Cerf, architect with Marconi fellow Robert E. Kahn
of the structure and the basic protocols that have become the
language of the Internet, will accept the Marconi Fellowship in a
ceremony and awards banquet in the Rotunda of Low Memorial
Library at Columbia tonight (Wednesday, April 15) at 7 P.M. He
is being recognized "for the technical achievements and
ambassadorial leadership that have been such major factors in
the creation and evolution of the Internet." The citation will be
presented by President George Rupp of Columbia.
At the banquet, Dr. Cerf will be introduced by Martin Meyerson, President
Emeritus and University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and
chairman of the board of the Marconi Foundation. Dr. Cerf is expected to introduce
a new theory of "bindings" - associations that permeate the Internet, social
relations, physics and the world around us. Understanding how these
associations affect daily lives will influence how we put technologies like the
Internet to work effectively.
The Marconi Fellowship, considered the premier award in communications
science, technology and related endeavors, was established in 1974 by Marconi's
daughter, Gioia Marconi Braga, to mark the centennial of the inventor's birth.
After her death in 1996, she was succeeded as chairman by Dr. Meyerson. The
Foundation, which administers the award, was incorporated under New York
State law in November 1996. Originally at the Aspen Institute and then at
Polytechnic University, it is now located at the Fu Foundation School of
Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, which is led by Zvi Galil,
dean of engineering and Schapiro Professor at Columbia. The Fellowship,
presented annually since 1975, includes $100,000 and a work of sculpture.
In addition to Dr. Meyerson, officers of the Foundation are John Jay Iselin,
vice chairman, who is president of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of
Science and Art; Fabrizio Serena, vice chairman, formerly of Telespazio; Paul
Hallingby, Jr., secretary-treasurer, partner emeritus of Bear, Stearns & Co., and
John W. Kiermaier, executive director, a former broadcast executive with CBS and
It is customary to invite a Fellowship recipient to deliver a presentation on
the subject of his or her commission at a future Marconi ceremony. Jacob Ziv,
recipient of the 1995 Marconi Fellowship, president of the Israeli Academy of
Sciences and research professor of electrical engineering at Technion, the Israel
Institute of Technology, is expected to report on his research in optoelectronics.
Dr. Cerf is responsible for development of MCI's Internet network, one of the
world's largest and fastest Internet backbones. He oversees the design and
development of the network architecture that will enable the company to deliver a
combination of data, information, voice and video to businesses and consumers.
In the next 25 years, he believes, those businesses and consumers will use
intelligent agents - new kinds of software - that will roam the web and
automatically perform vital but often mundane tasks. Car buyers will
automatically execute an insurance policy when they purchase a new car.
Financial programs will tell consumers when interest rates have fallen to a point
at which refinancing a home is a good idea. Dr. Cerf also sees Internet
connections controlling everyday appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers and
ovens. Drivers will be able to plug a malfunctioning car into an Internet
connection for a speedy diagnosis. The variety of information sources available to
consumers, including new 3-D hypermedia with high interactivity, will explode,
Dr. Cerf believes.
In the late 1960s, the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects
Agency began to develop ARPANET, a wide-area computer network based on a
new technology, packet switching, independently invented by Leonard Kleinrock
at UCLA, Paul Baran at RAND Corp. and Donald W. Davies at the National
Physical Laboratory in England. Dr. Cerf worked with Professor Kleinrock at
UCLA and was assigned the task of programming the Network Measurement
Center at UCLA, where the first ARPANET node was being installed. He also
participated in what was called the Network Working Group on the development
of "host protocols" to receive messages over the new network.
Dr. Kahn visited UCLA in the early 1970s to test the ARPANET, which had
four nodes at the time. In 1973 Drs. Cerf and Kahn began to discuss the problem
of how to connect different kinds of packet switched networks so the computers on
them could communicate smoothly. In 1974, they published what would become
the architecture and core protocols of the Internet in the IEEE Transactions on Communications. In 1976, Dr. Cerf joined ARPA to run the Internet, packet
radio and packet satellite programs, and played a major role in sponsoring the
development of Internet-related data packet technologies.
From 1982 to 1986, Dr. Cerf was vice president of MCI Digital Information
Services, serving as chief engineer in the development of MCI Mail, one of the
first commercial electronic mail services. He has also served as a vice president
of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, a federal agency, where he
conducted national research efforts on information infrastructure technologies.
Dr. Cerf is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
(IEEE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a trustee of Gallaudet University.
He served from 1992 to 1995 as founding president of the Internet Society and now
serves on its Board of Trustees. He is a recipient of numerous awards and
commendations in connection with his work on the Internet. In 1997, Dr. Cerf
was appointed to a presidential panel to review the U.S. government's program
for the next-generation Internet and was named a co-recipient of the National
Medal of Technology with Dr. Kahn.
Dr. Cerf holds a B.S. in mathematics from Stanford and an M.S. and Ph.D.
in computer science from UCLA.
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