Enders Robinson

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Enders Robinson
Enders A. Robinson headshot.gif
BSc Mathematics
MSc Economics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MSc university Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PhD university Massachusetts Institute of Technology[1]

Enders A. Robinson is an American Geophysicist and one of the scientists responsible for the transition from analog to digital data processing in geophysics. Enders is the Maurice Ewing and J. L. Worzel Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University in New York City. Robinson gained international prominence in the early 1950’s when he was the founder of the Geophysical Analysis Group (GAG) at MIT. GAG research lead to the digital revolution in geophysics a decade later. Robinson published more than 25 books on digital signal analysis, seismic data processing, and wavelet estimation. Robinson helped found Digicon in 1965; there he developed the first commercial programs for academic positions, including the McMan Distinguished Professor of Geophysics at the University of Tulsa. Robinson is the highest honored scientist in the field of geophysics, SEG’s Reginald Fessenden award 1969, the EAEG’s CSch award 1969, and the IEEE’s DGFP award 1984. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988. He is an honorary member of SEG and EAEG.


Contributed by David W. Strangway

If each of us was asked to nominate the Great Leaps Forward in our science, and to associate each such breakthrough with a name, all our lists would have one common entry: deconvolution, and the name of Enders A. Robinson. Today, in recognition of his immense service to geophysics, the SEG adds that name to the rolls of the Honorary Members of the Society.


In September of 1950, as a young graduate student at MIT, Enders Robinson commenced the task which would revolutionize seismics. It must have seemed very humdrum at the time; it was the digitization, with a ruler and pencil, of eight seismic records from Texas. By the spring of 1951 there were autocorrelations and spectra. No surprises there it was deconvolution which was the great unknown...Would it work on real data? It took the whole summer of 1951 to deconvolve 32 traces. The first trace (plotted, of course, by hand) looked too good to be true. But then the second, and the third...

Geophysical Analysis Group at MIT

This success led to the establishment of the Geophysical Analysis Group at MIT; Enders Robinson was its first Director. The work of this group (1952-1957) had three profound effects on geophysics:

First and foremost, of course, it developed the technology of deconvolution. Although scores of researchers have since written hundreds of papers on the subject of deconvolution, almost all of the basic techniques used today remain those set out by Enders Robinson in his classic papers of the 1950's.

The Digital Revolution

It forced the digital revolution. For corrections and stacking and filtering perhaps even for velocity analysis and dereverberation the industry could have continued to make progress by analog means; for statistical deconvolution the digital route was virtually the only choice. It created a totally new respect for theory. Seismic prospecting, to that time, had been very much a practical endeavor; doodlebuggers had scant regard for mathematicians. But deconvolution worked, and deconvolution came from theory; now there was no doubt that we must listen when theory spoke.

How fortunate we were, then, that theory spoke in the person of Enders Robinson! For Enders could communicate. True, many of us would grimace a little when Enders would say in the preamble that we would need only elementary algebra, for we knew that what was elementary algebra to Enders was the threshold of pain for the rest of us. But it was always worth the effort; each knotty development would be followed by a clear verbal summary, and at the end we would understand. Thus was a whole generation of geophysicists reoriented by the writings of Enders Robinson (joined, from time to time, by a happy choice of coauthors).

Prolific Publications

Enders output has been phenomenal. In more than 60 papers and essays, and in more than 20 books, he has guided and chronicled the evolution of signal processing from the hand digitization of the 1950's to the custom deconvolution chip of the 1980's, while also stimulating the adoption of these techniques in radar, speech analysis, economics and many other sciences. Thus has Enders provided for us the all-important bridge between mathematics and applied physics without which the theory is an abstraction and the practice is unfulfilled. And to all of this Enders brought an eminently readable style and an infectious delight in the beauty of science.

Of course, Enders would be the first to remind us that he stands on the shoulders of the giants of the past. Nevertheless, to a whole generation of geophysicists and almost despite his major contributions to other aspects of signal processing he will always remain the Father of Deconvolution.


The Leading Edge

  • Clark, Robert Dean; Robinson, Enders A. (1985). "Pythagoras and Jones". The Leading Edge 4 (4): 50–53. doi:10.1190/1.1439145.
  • Robinson, Enders A. (1985). "Space‐time geometry". The Leading Edge 4 (6): 24–28. doi:10.1190/1.1439151.
  • Clark, Robert Dean; Robinson, Enders A. (1985). "Descartes as geophysicist". The Leading Edge 4 (8): 32–35. doi:10.1190/1.1439169.
  • Robinson, Enders (1985). "Addition of velocities". The Leading Edge 4 (11): 72–73. doi:10.1190/1.1439121.
  • Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (1986). "Sparring over light". The Leading Edge 5 (4): 39–41. doi:10.1190/1.1439255.
  • Robinson, Enders A. (1998). "Further to Norman Neidell’s series…. Holistic migration". The Leading Edge 17 (3): 313–320. doi:10.1190/1.1437960.
  • Robinson, Enders A. (2000). "Wavelet estimation and Einstein deconvolution". The Leading Edge 19 (1): 56–60. doi:10.1190/1.1438456.
  • Robinson, Enders A. (2006). "Geophysical exploration: Past and future". The Leading Edge 25 (1): 96–99. doi:10.1190/1.2164752.
  • Robinson, Enders A. (2008). "Seismic resolution and interactive Earth-digital processing". The Leading Edge 27 (5): 670–673. doi:10.1190/1.2919586.
  • Basic seismology series:
  1. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1987). "The wave equation". The Leading Edge 6 (7): 14–17. doi:10.1190/1.1439405.
  2. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1987). "A wave at a boundary: Reflection, transmission/refraction, and diffraction". The Leading Edge 6 (9): 38–42. doi:10.1190/1.1439428.
  3. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1988). "Elasticity: Stress and strain". The Leading Edge 7 (2): 16–29. doi:10.1190/1.1439476.
  4. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1988). "Elasticity: Hooke’s law". The Leading Edge 7 (8): 58–60. doi:10.1190/1.1439545.
  5. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1989). "Elasticity: Cartesian fields of dilatation". The Leading Edge 8 (6): 28–31. doi:10.1190/1.1439631.
  6. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1989). "Elasticity: Cartesian fields of rotation". The Leading Edge 8 (11): 18–21. doi:10.1190/1.1439583.
  7. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1990). "Elasticity: Equations of motion". The Leading Edge 9 (7): 24–27. doi:10.1190/1.1439758.
  8. Robinson, Enders; Clark, Dean (1991). "Sampling and the Nyquist frequency". The Leading Edge 10 (3): 51–53. doi:10.1190/1.1436812.
  9. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2003). "The eikonal equation and the secret Pythagorean theorem". The Leading Edge 22 (8): 749–750. doi:10.1190/leedff.22.749_1.
  10. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2005). "Basic seismology 10: The King's Chamber and seismic ray direction". The Leading Edge 24 (5): 485–487. doi:10.1190/1.1926803.
  11. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2005). "Basic Seismology 11—Reflecting on the digital revolution". The Leading Edge 24 (10): 1030–1032. doi:10.1190/1.2112380.
  12. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2006). "Basic Seismology 12—Heron of Alexandria and Fermat's principle of least time". The Leading Edge 25 (5): 556–558. doi:10.1190/1.2202656.
  13. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2006). "Basic Seismology 13—Huygens' principle". The Leading Edge 25 (10): 1252–1255. doi:10.1190/1.2360614.
  14. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2007). "Basic Seismology 14—Michael Faraday and the eikonal equation". The Leading Edge 26 (1): 24–26. doi:10.1190/1.2431823.
  15. Robinson, Enders A.; Clark, Dean (2008). "Basic seismology 15: Isaac Newton and the birth of geophysics". The Leading Edge 27 (2): 159–161. doi:10.1190/1.2840361.

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award


  1. Robinson, Enders. A (1954), Predictive decomposition of time series with applications to seismic exploration (Thesis), http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/59629
  2. Loewenthal, Dan; Robinson, Enders A. (2000). "On unified dual fields and Einstein deconvolution". GEOPHYSICS 65 (1): 293–303. doi:10.1190/1.1444720. ISSN 0016-8033.
  3. Robinson, E. A.; Treitel, S. (1964). "PRINCIPLES OF DIGITAL FILTERING". GEOPHYSICS 29 (3): 395–404. doi:10.1190/1.1439370. ISSN 0016-8033.

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