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Fellows Directory

David MacKay

David MacKay

Sir David MacKay FRS


Elected: 2009






David MacKay was a true polymath, whose knowledge and contributions spanned important, wide-reaching areas of engineering. He made significant developments in fields including machine learning, efficient communication, and sustainable energy.

David developed a way to correct signal interference, which is now used in digital broadcasting and magnetic storage of information, such as on computer hard drives. He also advanced the field of machine learning by improving artificial neural networks. Furthermore, he invented Dasher, an assistive software application that enables communication in any language with any muscle of the body.

In 2008, he published a book on sustainable energy, which is regarded as a go-to text for energy policy and was praised worldwide. From 2009–2014, he was the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Sir David MacKay FRS died on 14 April 2016.

Biographical Memoir

Professional positions

Regius Professor of Engineering, Department Of Engineering, University of Cambridge

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Computer sciences
    • Computer science (excl engineering aspects)
  • Mathematics
    • Statistics and Operational Research
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Computational physics, Statistical
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, biological
  • Engineering
    • Engineering, environmental, Communications incl information theory, Computer engineering (including software)
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biophysics and structural biology
  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Experimental psychology, Behavioural neuroscience, Cellular neuroscience
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Evolution
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science, Science education at secondary level


Information theory, Machine learning, Error-correcting codes, Assistive communication, Sustainable energy, Climate change, Public policy, Decision theory, Game theory


  • Clifford Paterson Medal and Lecture

    On 'Information theory meets writing'.

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