Ken Duffy

Professor and Interim ECE Chair,  Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor,  Mathematics



  • 328 Dana

Research Focus

Algorithms for communication systems, the life sciences, and DNA forensics. Primary focus currently on new approaches to forward error correction.


Ken R. Duffy is a professor at Northeastern University with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Department of Mathematics. He works in works collaborative multi-disciplinary teams to design, analyze, and realize algorithms using tools from probability, statistics, and machine learning. Algorithms he has developed have been implemented in digital circuits and in DNA. His current focus is on modern approaches to error correction coding.

He received a B.A (mod) in Mathematics in 1996 and a PhD in Applied Probability in 2000, both awarded by Trinity College Dublin. He was previously a professor at National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where he was the Director of the Hamilton Institute, an interdisciplinary research centre, from 2016 to 2022. He was one of three co-Directors of the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science, which has funded more than 120 PhD students.

He is a co-founder of the Royal Statistical Society’s Applied Probability Section (2011), co-authored a cover article of Trends in Cell Biology (2012), is a winner of a best paper award at the IEEE International Conference on Communications (2015), the best paper award from IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering (2019), the best research demo award from COMSNETS (2022), the best demo award from COMSNETS (2023). He is currently an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Information Theory.


  • PhD, Applied Probability, Trinity College Dublin, 2000
  • B.A. (Mod), Mathematics, Trinity College Dublin, 1996

Honors & Awards

  • Best student paper award, CISS, 2023.
  • Best demo award, COMSNETS, 2023.
  • Best research demo award, COMSNETS, 2022.
  • Best paper award, IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering, 2019.
  • Best Paper Award, IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC), 2015
  • Cover article, Trends in Cell Biology, 2012.

Research Overview

Algorithms for communication systems, the life sciences, and DNA forensics. Primary focus currently on new approaches to forward error correction.

Selected Research Projects

  • Guessing Random Additive Noise Decoding, DARPA.

Research Centers and Institutes

Selected Publications

Information theory, coding, communications:

  • K. R. Duffy, M. Grundei & M. Médard. Using channel correlation to improve decoding – ORBGRAND-AI. IEEE Globecom, 2023.
  • A. Cohen, R. D’Oliveira, K. Duffy, J. Woo & M. Médard. AES as error correction: cryptosystems for reliable communication. IEEE Communications Letters, 27 (8), 1964–1968, 2023.
  • A. Riaz, A. Yasar, F. Ercan, W. An, J. Ngo, K. Galligan, M. Médard, K. R. Duffy & Rabia T. Yazicigil, A sub-0.8 pJ/bit, 16.3 Gbps/mm^2 universal soft-detection decoder using ORBGRAND in 40 nm CMOS. IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference, 2023.
  • K. R. Duffy, W. An & M. Médard. Ordered reliability bits guessing random additive noise decoding. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, 70, 4528–4542, 2022.
  • W. An, M. Médard & K. R. Duffy. Keep the bursts and ditch the interleavers. IEEE Transactions on Communications, 70 (6), 3655–3667, 2022.
  • K. R. Duffy, M. Médard & W. An. Guessing random additive noise decoding with symbol reliability information (SRGRAND). IEEE Transactions on Communications, 70 (1), 3–18, 2022.
  • K. R. Duffy & S. Shneer. MDS coding is better than replication for job completion times. Operations Research Letters, 49 (1), 91–95, 2021.
  • H. Wang, L. Vo, F. P. Calmon, M. Médard, K. R. Duffy & M. Varia, Privacy with estimation guarantees, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, 65 (12), 8025-8042, 2019.
  • K. R. Duffy, J. Li & M. Médard, Capacity-achieving guessing random additive noise decoding (GRAND), IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, 65 (7), 4023-4040, 2019.

Life sciences:

  • M. B. Horton, H. Cheon, K. R. Duffy, D. Brown, S. H. Naik, C. Alvarado, J. R. Groom, S. Heinzel & P. D. Hodgkin. Lineage tracing reveals B cell antibody class switching is stochastic, cell-autonomous, and tuneable. Immunity, 55 (10), 1843–1855, 2022.
  • K. Bresser, L. Kok, A. C. Swain, L. A. King, L. Jacobs, T. S. Weber, L. Perié, K. R. Duffy, R. J.  de Boer, F. A. Scheeren & T. N. Schumacher, Replicative history marks functional disparity in the CD8+ T cell memory pool. Nature Immunology, 3(5), 791–801, 2022.
  • H. Cheon, A. Kan, G. Prevedello, S. C. Oostinde, S. J. Dovedi, E. D. Hawkins, J. M. Marchingo, S. Heinzel, K. R. Duffy & P. D. Hodgkin. Cyton2: A model of immune cell population dynamics that includes familial instructional inheritance. Frontiers in Bioinformatics, 1, 1–20, 2021.
  • T. Tak, G. Prevedello, G. Simon, N. Paillon, C. Benlabiod, C. Marty, J-L. Villeval, I. Plo, K. R. Duffy & L. Perié. HSPCs display within-family homogeneity in differentiation and proliferation despite population heterogeneity. eLife, 10, e60624, 2021.
  • M. L. R. Haltalli, S. Watcham, N. K. Wilson, K. Eilers, A. Lipien, H. Ang, F. Birch, S. G. Anton, C. Pirillo, N. Ruivo, M. L. Vainieri, C. Pospori, R. E. Sinden, T. C. Luis, J. Langhorne, K. R. Duffy, B. Göttgens, A. M. Blagborough & C. Lo Celso,  Manipulating niche composition limits damage to haematopoietic stem cells during plasmodium infection. Nature Cell Biology, 22, 1399–1410, 2020.

DNA Forensics

  • C. M. Grgicak, Q. Bhembe, N. Sheth, K. R. Duffy & D. Lun. Single cell investigative genetics: Single-cell data produces genotype distributions concentrated at the true genotype across all mixture complexities. Forensic Science International: Genetics, to appear.
  • K. R. Duffy, D. Lun, M. Mulcahy, L. O’Donnell, N. Sheth & C. M. Grgicak. Evidentiary evaluation of single cells renders highly informative forensic comparisons across multifarious admixtures. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 2023.
  • N. Sheth, K. R. Duffy & C. M. Grgicak. High-quality data from a forensically relevant single-cell pipeline enabled by low PBS and Proteinase K concentrations. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 67, 697–706, 2022.
  • C. Grgicak, K. R. Duffy, & D. Lun. A posteriori probabilities on the number of contributors when conditioned on a known contributor. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 54, 102563, 2022.
  • N. Sheth, H. Swaminathan, A. J. Gonzalez, K. R. Duffy & C. M. Grgicak. Towards developing forensically relevant single cell pipelines by incorporating direct-to-PCR extraction: effects on signal quality and allele dropout. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 135 (3), 727–738, 2021.
  • C. M. Grgicak, S. Karkar, X. Yearwood-Garcia, L. E. Alfonse, K. R. Duffy & D. Lun. A large-scale validation of NOCIt’s a posteriori probability of the number of contributors and its integration into forensic interpretation pipelines, Forensic Science International: Genetics, 47, 102296, 2020.


Dec 07, 2023

2023 Stanford University Annual Assessment of Author Citations

The following COE professors are among the top scientists worldwide selected by Stanford University representing the top 2% of the most-cited scientists with single-year impact in various disciplines. The selection is based on the top 100,000 by c-score (with and without self-citations) or a percentile rank of 2% or above. The list below includes those […]

Ken Duffy


Dec 20, 2022

New Faculty Spotlight: Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy joins the Electrical and Computer Engineering department in January 2023 as a Professor with a joint appointment in Mathematics.

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