Former professor wins National Medal of Science

Published: October 27th, 2009

Category: InsideUF, Seen & Heard, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — President Barack Obama recently honored a former University of Florida professor at the White House with the National Medal of Science.

Rudolf Kalman is a former professor of mathematics and engineering and served as director of UF’s Center for Mathematical System Theory.

Established in 1959, the medal recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to science and engineering. A committee of presidential appointees selects nominees.

Kalman is best known for his work in developing a mathematical technique that removes ‘noise’ from a data stream. From incomplete information, it can estimate and control the state of a changing, complex system over time. The Kalman filter changed control theory and has become a common device in many engineering systems, from the Apollo lunar missions to global positioning systems to radar tracking and to automated drug delivery systems.

In 2008 Kalman won the Charles Stark Draper Prize for lifetime contributions to engineering. He was also one of four recipients of the 1985 Kyoto Prize, which is sometimes referred to as the Japanese Nobel prize.

Born in Hungary, Kalman was a graduate research professor at UF from 1971 to 1992. As the director of the Center for Mathematical Systems Theory, he brought several outstanding researchers to UF. Former Dean of the College of Engineering, Pramod Khargonekar, was one of Kalman’s Ph.D. students.

Kalman is a professor emeritus at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

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