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Robert Heath

Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

MIMO wireless communications, millimeter wave and terahertz communication systems, 5G, 6G and Next Generation cellular systems, machine learning for wireless communications

Professor Heath works in wireless communications, especially the area known as MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) wireless communication for more than two decades. In a MIMO system, multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver are leveraged to improve the wireless communication link, for example to provide higher data rates in a given amount of radio spectrum. MIMO communication is a key technology in cellular communications, starting with later releases of 3G, then into 4G and now 5G, as well as in wireless local area networks including IEEE 802.11n/ac/ad/ay/ax among others. His group has made diverse contributions to advance MIMO technology in commercial wireless systems including analysis, algorithms and prototyping.

Professor Heath's current research focuses on MIMO communications for next generation wireless networks. His group is looking at three areas: (1) developing new approaches for realizing and exploiting large MIMO systems in spectrum such as the upper midband, millimeter wave and teraHertz, (2) investigating the applications of reconfigurable antennas, metasurface antennas and photonics for MIMO communication and (3) devising new machine learning algorithms to configure MIMO links. He is interested in bridging the gaps between communication theory, information theory and circuits. He is also open to exploring new topics outside of MIMO including quantum communications. He welcomes collaborations with government and industry.

Capsule Bio:

Professor Robert Heath joined UC San Diego in 2024 as the Charles Lee Powell Chair in Wireless Communications. From 2020-2023, he was with the North Carolina State University where he was the Lampe Distinguished Professor. From 2002-2020, he was with The University of Texas at Austin, where he was the Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering #7. He is also the President and CEO of MIMO Wireless Inc.

Professor Heath has been working on the area of MIMO wireless communication for the past twenty-five years. His group has made important innovations and insights that enable MIMO communication to work well in commercial wireless systems. For example, his group did fundamental work on exploiting low data rate feedback links to enhance data rates and improve reliability in MIMO systems. Such techniques are now widely used, including in wireless local area networking and cellular standards like 4G and 5G. His group has studied different ways that multiple antennas can be exploited in cellular systems, including multi-user MIMO communication, multi-hop MIMO communication, multi-cell MIMO communication, massive MIMO, MIMO with distributed antennas, and MIMO interference channels. He is an early adopter of using machine learning for configuring MIMO communication links.

His work the last decade focused on millimeter wave MIMO communication. His group did important work to characterize the potential of millimeter waves for cellular communication. His group was an early proponent of the hybrid architecture, which splits beamforming between analog and digital domains, and is now widely used in 5G wireless systems. He also collaborated with others on the applications of millimeter wave to application verticals like vehicular communication systems. He is now looking at MIMO across a range of spectra including traditional bands, upper midband, millimeter wave and beyond. His research has been funded by a variety of government and industrial sources over the years.

Prof. Heath has published more than 800 refereed papers and is the co-inventor on at least 65 US patents. He is the recipient or co-recipient of several awards including the 2019 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award, the 2020 North Carolina State University Innovator of the Year Award, and the 2018 Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award. His work has been recognized with several best paper awards including the 2020 IEEE Signal Processing Society Donald G. Fink Overview Paper Award, the 2021 IEEE Vehicular Technology Society Neal Shepherd Memorial Best Propagation Paper Award, the 2021 IEEE Vehicular Technology Society James Evans Avant Garde Award, and the 2022 IEEE Vehicular Technology Society Best Vehicular Electronics Paper Award. He authored "Introduction to Wireless Digital Communication” (Prentice Hall in 2017) and "Digital Wireless Communication: Physical Layer Exploration Lab Using the NI USRP” (National Technology and Science Press in 2012). He co-authored “Millimeter Wave Wireless Communications” (Prentice Hall in 2014) and "Foundations of MIMO Communications" (Cambridge 2019). He is a licensed Amateur Radio Operator, a registered Professional Engineer in Texas, a Private Pilot, a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a Fellow of the IEEE.

Selected Publications:

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