LOS ANGELES (JTA) – The son and grandson of Vilna rabbis was named the winner of a prestigious science award for his work in mathematics formulas. Solomon Wolf Golomb, a University of Southern California professor, will receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal given out by the Franklin Institute for his work on the leading edges of science and engineering. The medal will be conferred at the Philadelphia-based institute in April. A number of its recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.
Golomb, 83, deals with formulas that have applications in space and cellular communications, cryptography, missile guidance, radar, sonar and GPS, or global positioning system. In one part of his research, Golomb’s work underlies the process called CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access, which allows hundreds of thousands of cell phones in the same city to communicate at the same time. Among “recreational mathematics” gamesters, Golomb is revered as a guru and, among other contributions, is the inventor of “cheskers,” a hybrid of chess and checkers. He serves on the Technion’s international board of governors and speaks fluent Hebrew. Golomb serves as a Torah reader at campus High Holidays services and is involved in both Hillel and Chabad activities. Born in Baltimore, Golomb graduated from Johns Hopkins and Harvard and subsequently became a leader in military and space communications at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.