Syed Jafar

2015 National Award Winner — Faculty

Syed Jafar

Current Position:
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

University of California, Irvine

Electrical Engineering

Recognized for: His fundamental contributions to studies of capacity limits of wireless networks and the discoveries in interference alignment

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Network Information Theory, Wireless Communications, Multiple Antenna Technology, Network Coding



PhD, Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
MS, Electrical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

Syed Jafar’s research focuses on the fundamental limits of communication networks - how the signaling dimensions can be optimally shared among interfering users. His work crystallized the idea of "interference alignment" into a form general enough to allow an explicit and unified understanding of several surprising results that were noted (some even described as "miracles") over the past decade, and to reveal its potential for the future of communication networks.

Through the lens of interference alignment, Dr. Jafar’s group has made surprising discoveries on topics as diverse as distributed data storage exact repair, index coding, multihop multiflow networks, cellular frequency reuse, multiuser multiantenna systems, reconfigurable antennas, network coherence, improper signaling, and synergies of coding across parallel channel states. For example, his group made the surprising discovery that it is theoretically possible for multiple users to share spectrum in a way that every user has access to half of the total spectrum free from interference, independent of the number of users, or, as Dr. Jafar puts it: "everyone gets half the cake."

“It has been my lifelong dream to create or discover something "beautiful". I fell in love with information theory because it is that rarest of disciplines where what is most important, most useful, is also what is most beautiful. I am honored to receive the Blavatnik National Award in Physical Sciences and Engineering and it is my hope that this recognition will lead to broader exposure and appreciation of both the beauty of information theory and the tremendous impact that it has had on our lives.”

Key Publications:

  1. Syed A. Jafar, Topological Interference Management through Index Coding, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. 2014
  2. V. Cadambe, Syed A. Jafar, H. Maleki, K. Ramchandran, C. Suh, Asymptotic Interference Alignment for Optimal Repair of MDS Codes in Distributed Storage, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory.  2013
  3. Syed A. Jafar, Blind Interference Alignment, IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing.  2012
  4. Viveck R. Cadambe, Syed A. Jafar, Interference Alignment and the Degrees of Freedom of the K User Interference Channel, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. 2008 

Other Honors:

2015Academic Senate Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Research
2015School of Engineering Mid-Career Excellence in Research Award
2015IEEE Communications Society Heinrich Hertz Prize Paper Award
2014Sciencewatch World's Most Influential Scientific Minds
2014Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher
2014IEEE Fellow
2014IEEE GLOBECOM Best Paper Award
2013/14IEEE Communications Society Distinguished Lecturer
2013IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award
2012IEEE GLOBECOM Best Paper Award
2010Engineering School Maseeh Outstanding Research Award
2009IEEE Information Theory Paper Award
2008ONR Young Investigator Award
2006NSF CAREER Award

In the Media:

UCI’s Syed Ali Jafar wins $250,000 Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists. UCI News. June 30, 2015