Marcel J. E. Golay

Marcel J.E. Golay (May 3, 1902 – 1989) was a Swiss-born mathematician, physicist, and information theorist, who applied mathematics to real-world military and industrial problems. He was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Contents

Career

Golay studied electrical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ("ETH" in German) in Zürich, joining Bell laboratories in New York in 1924. He received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1931. Leaving Bell labs, Golay joined the US Army Signal Corps, eventually rising to the post of Chief Scientist. He was based mostly in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. In 1963, Golay joined the Perkin-Elmer company as Senior Research Scientist. Golay worked on many problems, including gas chromatography and optical spectroscopy. He remained with Perkin-Elmer for the rest of his life.

Achievements

  • Co-author with Abraham Savitzky of the Savitzky-Golay smoothing filter.
  • Development of the Golay codes.
  • Generalization of the perfect binary Hamming codes to non-binary codes.
  • Inventor of the Golay cell, a type of infrared detector.
  • He introduced complementary sequences. Those are pairs of binary sequences whose autocorrelation functions add up to zero for all non-zero time shifts. Today they are used in various WiFi and 3G standards.

Significant bibliography

  • Notes on Digital Coding, Proc. IRE, vol. 37, p. 657, (1949)
  • Sieves for Low Autocorrelation Binary Sequences, IEEE Trans. Info. Theory, vol. IT-23, pp. 43-51 (1977)
  • Preparative Capillary Chromatography - A Proposal, Journal of High Resolution Chromatography & Chromatography Communications, Vol. 11, pp 6-8 (1988)
  • Complementary series, IRE Transactions on Information Theory, Volume: 7, Issue: 2, pp. 82-87 (1961) [1].

References

  • MARCEL J.E. GOLAY (1902-1989) obituary in the June 1990 IEEE Information Society Newsletter (by James L. Massey).

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