James L. Flanagan

Acoustical Society of America

Gold Medal Award


James L. Flanagan

JAMES L. FLANAGAN was born on 26 August 1925 in Greenwood, Mississippi. He received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State University in 1948 and the M.S. and Sc.D degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950 and 1955. His career has included the U.S. Army (1944–1946), Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Mississippi State University (1950–1952), and Electronic Scientist at the Air Force Cambridge Research Center (1955–1957). In 1957 he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories where he became head of the Speech and Auditory Research Department in 1961, head of the Acoustics Research Department in 1967, and Director of the Information Principles Research Laboratory in 1985.

Jim's previous honors include: the Achievement Award and the Society Award of the IEEE Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing Society, 1970 and 1976, respectively; the Distinguished Centennial Medal, 1984; the L. M. Ericson Prize for notable contributions to telecommunications, 1985; and the IEEE Edison Medal, 1986.

Jim was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1978 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and of the IEEE.

Jim's research career has ranged broadly in digital communications, speech processing, and acoustics. He has led efforts which produced practical digital speech coders operating at rates from 4000 to 64 000 bits/second, and, in particular, efforts which led to the development of adaptive waveform coders. These coders automatically adjust to characteristics of the speech that they encode. His work has provided the basis for many of the low bit rate coders in present use. He has also led research in speech synthesis and automatic speech recognition. His individual work includes comprehensive modeling of basilar membrane motion, leading to useful engineering models of auditory signal processing; theoretical and experimental development of a physiologically based model of vocal excitation for speech production, which provides a basis for advanced types of vocoders; theoretical and practical studies of formant and phase vocoders; and perceptual experiments that quantify the relationship between hearing and speech models and lead to an understanding of fundamental discrimination limits of the ear. He has over 140 publications and 45 patents. His book "Speech Analysis Synthesis and Perception" (first edition 1965; second edition 1972) has become a major reference in speech communication research.

Jim joined the Acoustical Society in 1950 and has served it in many capacities. These include President 1978–79; Vice President 1976–77; Executive Council 1970–73; Finance Committee 1974–76; Medals and Awards Committee 1968–69; and Associate Editor 1959–62.

Jim's career may be characterized by diligence, great talent, and devotion to the fields of acoustics and speech research. For more than 30 years he has sustained a prodigious productivity of the highest technical and intellectual caliber. He has played a major role in leading the world into the present era of digital speech communications—an era that provides new technologies for communication between person and person and between person and machine.

M. V. Mathews
L. R. Rabiner