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US presidential medal for Indian-American scientist

November 21, 2014 11:08 IST

United States President Barack Obama has felicitated Indian-American scientist Thomas Kailath with the top presidential medal for transformative contributions to the fields of science and technology.

Kailath, 79, received the National Medal of Science at a White House function on Thursday.

"Thomas Kailath came to this country from India at the age of 22, with a research assistantship that took him to MIT, and then Stanford, where he made critical contributions in information theory and statistics, and mentored more than 100 scholars along the way," Obama said.

Kailath received the award for transformative contributions to the fields of information and system science, distinctive and sustained mentoring of young scholars and translation of scientific ideas into entrepreneurial ventures that have had a significant impact on industry.

Awarded annually, the medal recognises individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

Born in 1935 to a Malayalam-speaking Syrian Christian family who hailed from Kerala, Kailath has authored several books including well-known Linear Systems.

After graduating from the University of Pune in 1956, Kailath received his Master's degree and his doctorate degree in 1961, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He was the first India-born student to receive a doctorate in electrical engineering from MIT.

Kailath joined Stanford University as Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1963 and was promoted to Professor in 1968, and was appointed the first holder of the
Hitachi America Professorship in 1988.

He is also known for his contributions to the information and system sciences.

He was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award in 2009 by the Indian government for his contribution to science and engineering.

Image: US President Barack Obama stands next to Thomas Kailath after awarding him with the National Medal of Science at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington
Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters

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