Mac Van Valkenburg, considered one of the greatest engineering educators of the past century, founded the Allerton Conference on Communication, Control, and Computing back in 1963 – then known as the Allerton Conference on Circuits and Systems.

It is one of the longest-running conferences in the systems area – and one of the most prestigious. Over the years, Allerton has drawn such illustrious academics as:

  • Hungarian electrical engineer Rudolph Kalman, who co-invented the Kalman filter, a mathematical technique widely used in control systems and avionics to extract a signal from a series of incomplete and noisy measurements;
  • Russian mathematician Lev Pontryagin, who developed a theory of characteristic classes, now known as Pontryagin classes, designed to vanish on a manifold that is a boundary;
  • American engineer Jim Mulligan, who designed and implemented courses in VLSI at the University of California, Irvine, and whose legacy is commemorated through the IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal.

Allerton Mansion

Allerton Conference Today

More than 50 years after its inception, the Allerton Conference continues to bring together some of the most brilliant minds in the field. For four-days, participants discuss such wide-ranging topics as:

  • biological information systems
  • coding techniques and applications
  • coding theory
  • data storage
  • information theory
  • multiuser detection and estimation
  • network information theory
  • sensor networks in communications
  • wireless communication systems
  • intrusion/anomaly detection and diagnosis
  • network coding
  • network games and algorithms
  • performance analysis
  • pricing and congestion control
  • reliability
  • security and trust
  • decentralized control systems
  • robust and nonlinear control
  • adaptive control and automation
  • robotics
  • distributed and large-scale systems
  • complex networked systems
  • optimization
  • dynamic games
  • machine learning and learning theory
  • signal models and representations
  • signal acquisition
  • coding and retrieval
  • detection and estimation
  • learning and inference
  • statistical signal processing
  • sensor networks
  • data analytics
  • power system control and optimization

The conference is held at the secluded Allerton Retreat Center, which is surrounded by 1,500 acres of formal gardens and nature areas. Located 26 miles southwest of the Urbana-Champaign campus, Robert Allerton Park and Retreat Center has been designated as a national natural landmark.

The Allerton Conference has been growing each year, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. During the 35th annual conference in 1997, organizers buried a time capsule with instructions to open it in another 35 years. When the capsule is opened at the 2032 conference, many aspects of communication, control, and computing will be dramatically different — but one thing will likely remain the same: The Allerton Conference will still be a gathering place for the brightest minds in the fields of communication, control and computing.