Katabi earns SIGCOMM Lifetime Achievement Award

MIT professor Dina Katabi giving a presentation in an auditorium in the Stata Center (Credit: Mike Grimmett).

Dina Katabi, MIT EECS Thuan and Nicole Pham Professor and CSAIL principal investigator, was recently honored with the SIGCOMM Lifetime Achievement Award for her impact on the field of data communications.

Katabi, the director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing, is known for her contributions to wireless data transmission, where she has improved the data rate and reliability of WiFi and cellular systems. Katabi worked with MIT colleague Piotr Indyk to develop the Sparse Fourier Transform, an algorithm that computes the Fourier Transform much faster than FFT to solve problems in fields such as computer networks, medical imaging, and biochemistry.

As a principal investigator at the Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (Jameel Clinic) and a co-founder of Emerald Innovations, Katabi's more recent work also includes designing wireless devices that assist with digital health using AI and radio signals. She recently developed an in-home wireless device that continuously monitors the gait speed of patients with Parkinson’s disease to better track the progression of the disease. Roughly the size of a Wi-Fi router, the device passively collects data using radio signals that reflect off the patient’s body as they move around their home. Additionally, she worked on an AI model that detects Parkinson’s from individuals’ breathing patterns, using a neural network that can evaluate the presence and severity of the disease.

Currently, Katabi focuses on research in congestion control, scalability and robustness of communication systems, differentiated services, Internet pricing, routing, content distribution, peer-to-peer systems, and network measurement and security, particularly in adapting tools from applied mathematics such as control theory, coding theory, and AI to solve problems in computer networks.

Katabi’s journey began with a bachelor’s of science from the University of Damascus. She then headed to MIT, where she earned a master’s of science and a PhD in computer science. Katabi joined the EECS faculty in 2003.

The SIGCOMM Lifetime Achievement Award is yet another honor for Katabi, who has also received the 2013 MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Prize in Computing in 2018, the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, three ACM Test-of-Time Awards, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences.