# Elwyn Berlekamp

Elwyn Berlekamp | |
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Berlekamp in 2005 | |

Born | Elwyn Ralph Berlekamp September 6, 1940 Dover, Ohio, U.S. |

Died | April 9, 2019 Piedmont, California, U.S. | (aged 78)

Nationality | American |

Alma mater | Massachusetts Institute of Technology |

Known for | Berlekamp's algorithm, Berlekamp–Welch algorithm, Berlekamp–Massey algorithm, Coupon Go |

Awards | IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal (1991) Claude E. Shannon Award (1993) |

Scientific career | |

Fields | Information theory, Coding theory, Combinatorial game theory |

Institutions | University of California, Berkeley |

Doctoral advisor | Robert G. Gallager |

Doctoral students | Julia Kempe |

Other notable students | Ken Thompson |

**Elwyn Ralph Berlekamp** (September 6, 1940 – April 9, 2019) was an American mathematician known for his work in computer science, coding theory and combinatorial game theory. He was a professor emeritus of mathematics and EECS at the University of California, Berkeley.^{[1]}^{[2]}

Berlekamp was the inventor of an algorithm to factor polynomials, and was one of the inventors of the Berlekamp–Welch algorithm and the Berlekamp–Massey algorithms, which are used to implement Reed–Solomon error correction.

Berlekamp had also been active in money management. In 1986, he began information-theoretic studies of commodity and financial futures.

## Contents

## Life and education[edit]

Berlekamp was born in Dover, Ohio, his family moved to Northern Kentucky, where Berlekamp graduated from Ft. Thomas Highlands high school in Ft. Thomas, Campbell county, Kentucky. While an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he was a Putnam Fellow in 1961, he completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering in 1962. Continuing his studies at MIT, he finished his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1964; his advisors were Robert G. Gallager, Peter Elias, Claude Shannon, and John Wozencraft.

Berlekamp had two daughters and a son with his wife Jennifer, he lived in Piedmont, California and died in April 2019 at the age of 78 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis.^{[3]}

## Career[edit]

Berlekamp taught electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley from 1964 until 1966, when he became a mathematics researcher at Bell Labs. In 1971, Berlekamp returned to Berkeley as professor of mathematics and EECS, where he served as the advisor for over twenty doctoral students.^{[1]}^{[2]}^{[4]}

He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering (1977)^{[5]} and the National Academy of Sciences (1999),^{[6]} he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996,^{[7]} and became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012.^{[8]} In 1991, he received the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal,^{[9]} and in 1993, the Claude E. Shannon Award. In 1998, he received a Golden Jubilee Award for Technological Innovation from the IEEE Information Theory Society,^{[10]} he was one of the founders of Gathering 4 Gardner and was on its board for many years.^{[11]} In the mid-1980s, he was president of Cyclotomics, Inc., a corporation that developed error-correcting code technology.^{[1]}

He has studied various games, including dots and boxes, Fox and Geese, and, especially, Go. Berlekamp and co-author David Wolfe describe methods for analyzing certain classes of Go endgames in the book *Mathematical Go.*

In 1989, Berlekamp purchased the largest interest in a trading company named Axcom Trading Advisors. After the firm's futures trading algorithms were rewritten, Axcom's Medallion Fund had a return (in 1990) of 55%, net of all management fees and transaction costs; the fund has subsequently continued to realize annualized returns exceeding 30% under management by James Harris Simons and his Renaissance Technologies Corporation.^{[12]}

## Berlekamp and Martin Gardner[edit]

Berlekamp was a close friend of Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner and was an important member of the gifted and diverse group of people that Gardner nurtured and acted as a conduit for; people who inspired Gardner and who were in turn inspired by him.^{[13]} Berlekamp teamed up with John Horton Conway and Richard K. Guy, two other close associates of Gardner, to co-author the book *Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays* leading to his recognition as one of the founders of combinatorial game theory.^{[14]} The dedication of their book says, "To Martin Gardner, who has brought more mathematics to more millions than anyone else."^{[15]}

Berlekamp and Gardner both had great love for and were strong advocates of recreational mathematics.^{[14]} Conferences called Gathering 4 Gardner (G4G) are held every two years to celebrate the Gardner legacy.^{[13]} Berlekamp was one of the founders of G4G and was on its board of directors for many years.^{[16]}

## Selected publications[edit]

*Block coding with noiseless feedback*. Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, 1964.*Algebraic Coding Theory*, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968. Revised ed., Aegean Park Press, 1984, ISBN 0-89412-063-8.- (with John Horton Conway and Richard K. Guy)
*Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays*.- 1st edition, New York: Academic Press, 2 vols., 1982;
^{[17]}vol. 1, hardback: ISBN 0-12-091150-7, paperback: ISBN 0-12-091101-9; vol. 2, hardback: ISBN 0-12-091152-3, paperback: ISBN 0-12-091102-7. - 2nd edition, Wellesley, Massachusetts: A. K. Peters Ltd., 4 vols., 2001–2004; vol. 1: ISBN 1-56881-130-6; vol. 2: ISBN 1-56881-142-X; vol. 3: ISBN 1-56881-143-8; vol. 4: ISBN 1-56881-144-6.

- 1st edition, New York: Academic Press, 2 vols., 1982;
- (with David Wolfe)
*Mathematical Go*. Wellesley, Massachusetts: A. K. Peters Ltd., 1994. ISBN 1-56881-032-6.^{[18]} *The Dots-and-Boxes Game*. Natick, Massachusetts: A. K. Peters Ltd., 2000. ISBN 1-56881-129-2.

## References[edit]

- ^
^{a}^{b}^{c}Contributors,*IEEE Transactions on Information Theory***42**, #3 (May 1996), p. 1048. DOI 10.1109/TIT.1996.490574. - ^
^{a}^{b}Elwyn Berlekamp, listing at the Department of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley. **^***Elwyn Berlekamp, game theorist and coding pioneer, dies at 78*Berkeley News, By Robert Sanders, April 18, 2019**^**Contributors,*IEEE Transactions on Information Theory***20**, #3 (May 1974), p. 408.**^**"NAE Members Directory – Dr. Elwyn R. Berlekamp". NAE. Retrieved June 16, 2011.**^**"NAS Membership Directory". NAS. Retrieved June 16, 2011. Search with "Last Name" is Berlekamp.**^**"Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 16, 2011.**^**List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.**^**"IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved May 29, 2011.**^**"Golden Jubilee Awards for Technological Innovation". IEEE Information Theory Society. Retrieved July 14, 2011.**^**About Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation Archived 2016-05-07 at the Wayback Machine**^**Financial Engineering, Elwyn Berlekamp's Home Page. Accessed on line October 30, 2007.- ^
^{a}^{b}Elwyn Berlekamp Tribute by Gathering 4 Gardner on April 17, 2019 - ^
^{a}^{b}*The Mathematical Legacy of Martin Gardner*by Elwyn Berlekamp, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), September 2, 2014: Partly because of what I had read about them in Martin Gardner’s columns, I was appropriately awestruck in the 1960s when I first met Sol Golomb and then Richard Guy, each of whom had a large influence on my subsequent work. In 1969 Richard introduced me to John Horton Conway, and the three of us immediately began collaborating on a book that eventually became*Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays*. In the 1970s, I joined Conway in some of his many visits to Gardner’s home on Euclid Avenue, in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Gardner soon became an enthusiastic advocate of our book project, and he previewed various snippets of it in his Scientific American columns. **^**Berlekamp, Elwyn R., John H. Conway, and Richard K. Guy (1982).*Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays*Academic Press, ISBN 0120911507.**^**History of the Gathering Gathering 4 Gardner**^**Golomb, Solomon (1983). "Review:*Winning ways for your mathematical plays*, by E. R. Berlekamp, J. H. Conway, and R. K. Guy".*Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.)*.**8**(1): 108–111. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1983-15098-x.**^**Guy, Richard K.; Nowakowski, Richard J. (1995). "Review:*Mathematical Go: Chilling gets the last point*, by Elwyn Berlekamp and David Wolfe" (PDF).*Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.)*.**32**(4): 437–441. doi:10.1090/S0273-0979-1995-00601-4.

## External links[edit]

- Elwyn Berlekamp home page at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Elwyn Berlekamp at the Mathematics Genealogy Project.

- 1940 births
- 2019 deaths
- 20th-century American mathematicians
- 21st-century American mathematicians
- American information theorists
- Coding theorists
- Combinatorial game theorists
- Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Fellows of the American Mathematical Society
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni
- Mathematicians from Ohio
- Mathematics popularizers
- Members of the United States National Academy of Engineering
- Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences
- People from Dover, Ohio
- Putnam Fellows
- University of California, Berkeley faculty
- Deaths from pulmonary fibrosis