Elwyn Berlekamp is a Professor of Mathematics at the Univerisity of California, Berkley. As a researcher in the fields of Error Correcting Codes he shared the discovery of Berlekamp-Massey Algorithm with James Massey. He also has done a substantial amount of research in the fields of Finance, Information Theory, Games, and Algorithms.

Biographical Information

Born on September 6, 1940, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., which he recieved in 1964. In 1964, he joined the faculty of the Univerisity of California, Berkley as an Associate Professor of Electricial Engineering. He left for a short while in 1967 to join Bell Telephone Laboratories but returned to academic life at Berkley in 1971 as a full Professor. He also founded a company called Cyclotomics (now owned by Kodak), which is the provider high-speed error control systems for NASA. In addition, all commercial compact disc players use some Reed-Solomon Codes with Berlekamp Decoding. Prof. Berlekamp is currently embroiled in a legal battle with a Sam Sloan of Ishi Press International over the distribution of several works on Go, for which the latter is owed royalties (United States District Court, San Jose Branch docket# C-95 20678 RMW), though he is named as a defendant and counter-claimant, there appears to be little more than unfortunate association.


From 1979 until 1994, he held 12 patents, all of which are now in the public domain. They covered topics such as: Galois Field Computer (#4162480), Transparent Synchronization (#4731676), Elongated Burst Trapping (#4958348). All of which deal in some way with the field of Information Theory.

Sources: Ishi Press website, ishipress.com Documents of the US District Court, San Jose Branch Professor Berlekamp's personal website

In addition to his great contributions to EECS, Elwyn Berlekamp is also a leader in the field of Combinatorial Game Theory. In writing the 1984 book Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays, Berlekamp, John Conway, and Richard Guy created Combinatorial Game Theory. CGS is much more advanced and intricate than "regular" (i.e. John von Neumann's) Game Theory; it covers games of no chance of complexity from Nim to Go. In fact Mathematical Go is another of Berlekamp's specialties and currently simple games can be solved mathematically (sometimes in analysis of tournament games catching errors played). Volume 3 of WW is soon to be released.

Trivia: Berlekamp is the only Mathematics professor at UC Berkeley to not have degrees in math (but rather in EECS).

(I had the fortune to take a graduate course in CGS by Berlekamp in 2002. Half the fun was in listening to Berlekamp's anecdotes about the insistence of his English colleagues of alliterating terms, meeting famous Go players, one-upping people by naming a composed problem "4G4G4G4G4" (Four Games for Gardner for Gathering For Gardner Four - http://www.msri.org/publications/books/ Book42/files/be4g4g.pdf).)

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