Rudolf Kalman
Dr. Rudolf Kalman Draper Prize
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  • Draper
Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering
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Rudolf Kalman is Professor Emeritus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He invented the Kalman filter, a mathematical technique that removes "noise" from series of data. From incomplete information, it can optimally estimate and control the state of a changing, complex system over time. The Kalman filter revolutionized the field of control theory and has become pervasive in engineering systems. Kalman conceptualized his theory in the late 1950s while at the Research Institute for Advanced Studies in Baltimore (then part of the Glenn L. Martin Co., which became Lockheed-Martin Corp.). It was published in the breakthrough paper "A new approach to linear filtering and prediction problems" (Transactions of the ASME-Journal of Basic Engineering, 82D:35–45, 1960). Kalman soon published two other influential papers, one on the state space theory of linear systems, and another on concepts of controllability and observability. When Kalman presented these new approaches in seminars, audience members were thrilled by his elegant solution to their stubborn obstacles. Kalman's ideas enabled a broad range of technologies to achieve unprecedented accuracy and to be used in previously unimagined ways. Recognition of the Kalman filter's utility began in the early 1960s with aerospace and military applications such as guidance, navigation, and control systems. It was quickly applied to systems and devices in nearly all engineering fields and continues to find new uses today. Applications include target tracking by radar, global positioning systems, hydrological modeling, atmospheric observations, time-series analyses in econometrics, and automated drug delivery. Kalman continued studying many fundamental ideas in control and systems theories throughout his career, and he has received many awards and honors for a lifetime of achievements, including the first Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology (1985) from the Inamori Foundation, the IEEE Medal of Honor (1974), and the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize (1987). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Acceptance Remarks

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  • Draper
  • 2008
  • For the development and dissemination of the optimal digital technique (known as the Kalman Filter) that is pervasively used to control a vast array of consumer, health, commercial and defense products.