David A. Huffman

David Albert Huffman ( born August 9, 1925 in Ohio; † October 7, 1999 in Santa Cruz, California ) was an American computer pioneer. He developed include the Huffman coding, a lossless compression method.


Huffman's parents were divorced soon after his birth. He learned to speak late, so his mother took a job as a mathematics teacher at a school in order to put him there also can. In tests, however, proved Huffman as gifted, and so he set in 1944 with 18 his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the Ohio State University. Subsequently he was radar officer for the U.S. Navy. Back at the Ohio State University in 1949, he obtained the master degree.

During his D.Sc. degree program at MIT he developed in 1952 in a seminar paper at Robert Fano Huffman code. In 1953 he received his doctorate at Samuel H. Caldwell with the work The Synthesis of Sequential Switching Circuits, which was awarded the Louis E. Levy Medal of the Franklin Institute.

He stayed first at MIT and joined in 1967 as a founding member of the faculty of computer science at the University of California, Santa Cruz ( UCSC ), which he headed from 1970 to 1973. In 1994 he retired, but remained until shortly before his death in 1999 in research and teaching acting.

His awards included the appointment as IEEE Fellow, 1973 W. Wallace McDowell Award from the IEEE in 1999 and the Richard W. Hamming Medal from the IEEE, which, however, he could not accept because he had previously succumbed to cancer.

Huffman was married twice and had his first wife, two daughters and a son.