Massive MIMO inventor Marzetta takes over leadership of NYU Wireless from Rappaport

NYU Wireless appointed Thomas Marzetta, who is credited as the originator of Massive MIMO technology, as director of the research center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, replacing founder Theodore (Ted) Rappaport.

Rappaport founded the research center in 2012 and has been a prominent personality in the field of millimeter wave research. Few experts acknowledged the possibilities of tapping the higher-band spectrum, which now features heavily in 5G strategies by the likes of Verizon and other U.S. operators, before Rappaport published his 2013 paper, “Millimeter Wave Mobile Communications for 5G Cellular: It Will Work.”

Rappaport will retain his title of founding director of NYU Wireless and maintain leadership and research roles at the center, but in a statement, he said he’s ready to travel the world with his wife.

“My intent in rotating the directorship at this moment is to take a ‘victory lap’ with my wife and to travel around the world, lecturing and visiting foreign lands, while I make up for lost time due to my recovery from acute myeloid leukemia in 2015,” Rappaport said. “My health is now strong, and the NYU Wireless center is also strong. Now is the ideal time to bring in a new leader to direct NYU Wireless, to propose fresh new ideas and to continue the growth and vitalization of the center.”

Marzetta, who joined NYU Tandon in 2017 as a distinguished industry professor of electrical and computer engineering, earned a reputation for originating the concept of Massive MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), a key enabler for 5G. He told FierceWireless earlier this year that the whole concept was considered rather radical thinking back in the early days, but some academic collaborators encouraged him to dive deeper into the concept and today, it’s being used in wireless installations around the country.

RELATED: Inventor of Massive MIMO technology didn’t always want to call it that

It got its name not for being large in physical size, but it uses numerous small, individually controlled, low-power antennas to direct streams of information, selectively and simultaneously, to many users. That leads to spectral efficiency orders of magnitude greater than that experienced in 4G service, along with high-quality service throughout the cell, simplicity and scalability, and outstanding energy efficiency, according to the research center. 

Marzetta’s paper on Massive MIMO, "Noncooperative Cellular Wireless with Unlimited Numbers of Base Station Antennas," published in 2010, has been cited well over 4,000 times.

“The groundbreaking work of Professors Rappaport and Marzetta opened up possibilities of remote medicine, connected and autonomous vehicles, affordable connectivity in remote areas, and so much more that we are only beginning to imagine,” said NYU Tandon Dean Jelena Kovačević in a press release.

“It is a very great honor to be chosen to direct NYU Wireless. Under the directorships of Ted and Sundeep Rangan, we have become one of the foremost academic centers of wireless research,” Marzetta said in a statement. “With imagination, strenuous effort, and a willingness to take risks in our research, we can continue to discover impactful ways to connect society.”

Rangan, an NYU Tandon professor of electrical and computer engineering, is now an associate director of NYU Wireless, along with Dennis Shasha, a professor of computer science at the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and John-Ross Rizzo, an assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Department of Neurology and at NYU Tandon’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Department of Biomedical Engineering.