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USC Viterbi marks the 50th anniversary of the algorithm that changed the world

If you used a smartphone today, thank Andrew Viterbi: His 1967 breakthrough made possible the technology that we now take for granted

Yannis C. Yortsos, Andrew Viterbi and C. L. Max Nikias
Yannis C. Yortsos, Andrew Viterbi and C. L. Max Nikias, from left, attend the 39th annual Viterbi Awards in Beverly Hills. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering took time at its 39th annual Viterbi Awards to mark a momentous occasion: the 50th anniversary of the Viterbi Algorithm, which revolutionized telecommunications by eliminating background noise.

USC President C. L. Max Nikias honored the legacy of Andrew Viterbi PhD ’62, recounting his transformation from a young immigrant into a leader, innovator and generous spirit.

“In very real ways, he brings the world together every second of every day,” Nikias said. “Like the algorithm we celebrate tonight, he has been able to break through life’s noise to focus on the right stuff — whether it be his students, his friends or his family.”

Viterbi took the stage to a standing ovation and humbly accepted the honor.

“To say that I’m overwhelmed is an understatement,” he said. “I never thought I would have so many distinguished admirers.”

Said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos: “You see, in the era of artificial intelligence, even algorithms celebrate anniversaries.”

The school was named for Viterbi and his wife, Erna, in 2004 following a generous donation by the couple.

The Viterbi Awards event was held April 19 at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills.


Watch the video shown at the 39th annual Viterbi Awards.

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USC Viterbi marks the 50th anniversary of the algorithm that changed the world

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