ISL was formed in the early 1960s by Norm Abramson, Gene Franklin, and Bernie Widrow as the Systems Theory Laboratory. The name was changed to ISL soon after Tom Kailath joined the faculty in 1964, in the words of Gene, “… on the basis that the group emphasized the study of systems rather than devices, manipulated information rather than energy, and applied mathematics rather than physics …”
ISL has played a leadership role in the development of signal processing, systems and control, and information theory. In addition to these fundamental breakthroughs, the lab has made equally significant contributions to many applications areas, including wired and wireless communications, medical imaging, image and video communication, cryptography, computer networks, and integrated circuit design and manufacturing, among other areas. Many of these developments have been successfully commercialized.
Research in ISL focuses on the development and application of mathematical models, techniques, and algorithms for information processing, broadly construed. In addition to work on the core disciplines of information theory and coding, control and optimization, signal processing, and learning and statistical inference, current ISL research spans several application areas and interdisciplinary programs involving faculty and students from Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Statistics, Management Science and Engineering, Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering (ICME), Biological Sciences, Psychology, the School of Medicine, and the Graduate School of Business.
ISL research is sponsored by US government agencies including NSF, NIH, and DARPA; by industry; and by university centers such as the Center for Integrated Systems, Precourt, TomKat, the Stanford Center from Image Systems Engineering, and Brown Institute for Media Innovation.