|Born||April 30, 1916|
Petoskey, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||February 24, 2001 84) (aged|
Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Norma Levor (1940-41) |
Betty Shannon (1949)
|Fields||Mathematics and electronic engineering|
|Doctoral advisor||Frank Lauren Hitchcock|
Claude Elwood Shannon (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as "the father of information theory".Shannon founded information theory with a landmark paper, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", which he published in 1948.
He also founded digital circuit design theory in 1937, when—as a 21-year-old master's degree student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—he wrote his thesis demonstrating that electrical applications of Boolean algebra could construct any logical numerical relationship.Shannon contributed to the field of cryptanalysis for national defense during World War II, including his fundamental work on codebreaking and secure telecommunications.
The Shannon family lived in Gaylord, Michigan, and Claude was born in a hospital in nearby Petoskey.His father, Claude Sr. (1862–1934) was a businessman and for a while, a judge of probate in Gaylord. His mother, Mabel Wolf Shannon (1890–1945), was a language teacher, who also served as the principal of Gaylord High School. Claude Sr. was a descendant of New Jersey settlers, while Mabel was a child of German immigrants.
Most of the first 16 years of Shannon's life were spent in Gaylord, where he attended public school, graduating from Gaylord High School in 1932. Shannon showed an inclination towards mechanical and electrical things. His best subjects were science and mathematics. At home he constructed such devices as models of planes, a radio-controlled model boat and a barbed-wire telegraph system to a friend's house a half-mile away.While growing up, he also worked as a messenger for the Western Union company.
Shannon's childhood hero was Thomas Edison, who he later learned was a distant cousin. Both Shannon and Edison were descendants of John Ogden (1609–1682), a colonial leader and an ancestor of many distinguished people.
In 1932, Shannon entered the University of Michigan, where he was introduced to the work of George Boole. He graduated in 1936 with two bachelor's degrees: one in electrical engineering and the other in mathematics.
In 1936, Shannon began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at MIT, where he worked on Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an early analog computer.While studying the complicated ad hoc circuits of this analyzer, Shannon designed switching circuits based on Boole's concepts. In 1937, he wrote his master's degree thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits . A paper from this thesis was published in 1938. In this work, Shannon proved that his switching circuits could be used to simplify the arrangement of the electromechanical relays that were used then in telephone call routing switches. Next, he expanded this concept, proving that these circuits could solve all problems that Boolean algebra could solve. In the last chapter, he presented diagrams of several circuits, including a 4-bit full adder.
Using this property of electrical switches to implement logic is the fundamental concept that underlies all electronic digital computers. Shannon's work became the foundation of digital circuit design, as it became widely known in the electrical engineering community during and after World War II. The theoretical rigor of Shannon's work superseded the ad hoc methods that had prevailed previously. Howard Gardner called Shannon's thesis "possibly the most important, and also the most noted, master's thesis of the century."
Shannon received his PhD from MIT in 1940. Vannevar Bush had suggested that Shannon should work on his dissertation at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in order to develop a mathematical formulation for Mendelian genetics. This research resulted in Shannon's PhD thesis, called An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics.
In 1940, Shannon became a National Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In Princeton, Shannon had the opportunity to discuss his ideas with influential scientists and mathematicians such as Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann, and he also had occasional encounters with Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel. Shannon worked freely across disciplines, and this ability may have contributed to his later development of mathematical information theory.
Shannon then joined Bell Labs to work on fire-control systems and cryptography during World War II, under a contract with section D-2 (Control Systems section) of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC).
Shannon is credited with the invention of signal-flow graphs, in 1942. He discovered the topological gain formula while investigating the functional operation of an analog computer.
For two months early in 1943, Shannon came into contact with the leading British mathematician Alan Turing. Turing had been posted to Washington to share with the U.S. Navy's cryptanalytic service the methods used by the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park to break the ciphers used by the Kriegsmarine U-boats in the north Atlantic Ocean.He was also interested in the encipherment of speech and to this end spent time at Bell Labs. Shannon and Turing met at teatime in the cafeteria. Turing showed Shannon his 1936 paper that defined what is now known as the "Universal Turing machine". This impressed Shannon, as many of its ideas complemented his own.
In 1945, as the war was coming to an end, the NDRC was issuing a summary of technical reports as a last step prior to its eventual closing down. Inside the volume on fire control, a special essay titled Data Smoothing and Prediction in Fire-Control Systems, coauthored by Shannon, Ralph Beebe Blackman, and Hendrik Wade Bode, formally treated the problem of smoothing the data in fire-control by analogy with "the problem of separating a signal from interfering noise in communications systems."In other words, it modeled the problem in terms of data and signal processing and thus heralded the coming of the Information Age.
Shannon's work on cryptography was even more closely related to his later publications on communication theory.At the close of the war, he prepared a classified memorandum for Bell Telephone Labs entitled "A Mathematical Theory of Cryptography", dated September 1945. A declassified version of this paper was published in 1949 as "Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems" in the Bell System Technical Journal . This paper incorporated many of the concepts and mathematical formulations that also appeared in his A Mathematical Theory of Communication . Shannon said that his wartime insights into communication theory and cryptography developed simultaneously and that "they were so close together you couldn’t separate them". In a footnote near the beginning of the classified report, Shannon announced his intention to "develop these results … in a forthcoming memorandum on the transmission of information."
While he was at Bell Labs, Shannon proved that the cryptographic one-time pad is unbreakable in his classified research that was later published in October 1949. He also proved that any unbreakable system must have essentially the same characteristics as the one-time pad: the key must be truly random, as large as the plaintext, never reused in whole or part, and be kept secret.
In 1948, the promised memorandum appeared as "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", an article in two parts in the July and October issues of the Bell System Technical Journal. This work focuses on the problem of how best to encode the message a sender wants to transmit. In this fundamental work, he used tools in probability theory, developed by Norbert Wiener, which were in their nascent stages of being applied to communication theory at that time. Shannon developed information entropy as a measure of the information content in a message, which is a measure of uncertainty reduced by the message. In so doing, he essentially invented the field of information theory.
The book The Mathematical Theory of Communication reprints Shannon's 1948 article and Warren Weaver's popularization of it, which is accessible to the non-specialist. Weaver pointed out that the word "information" in communication theory is not related to what you do say, but to what you could say. That is, information is a measure of one's freedom of choice when one selects a message. Shannon's concepts were also popularized, subject to his own proofreading, in John Robinson Pierce's Symbols, Signals, and Noise.
Information theory's fundamental contribution to natural language processing and computational linguistics was further established in 1951, in his article "Prediction and Entropy of Printed English", showing upper and lower bounds of entropy on the statistics of English – giving a statistical foundation to language analysis. In addition, he proved that treating whitespace as the 27th letter of the alphabet actually lowers uncertainty in written language, providing a clear quantifiable link between cultural practice and probabilistic cognition.
Another notable paper published in 1949 is "Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems", a declassified version of his wartime work on the mathematical theory of cryptography, in which he proved that all theoretically unbreakable ciphers must have the same requirements as the one-time pad. He is also credited with the introduction of sampling theory, which is concerned with representing a continuous-time signal from a (uniform) discrete set of samples. This theory was essential in enabling telecommunications to move from analog to digital transmissions systems in the 1960s and later.
He returned to MIT to hold an endowed chair in 1956.
In 1956 Shannon joined the MIT faculty to work in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE). He continued to serve on the MIT faculty until 1978.
Shannon developed Alzheimer's disease and spent the last few years of his life in a nursing home; he died in 2001, survived by his wife, a son and daughter, and two granddaughters.
Outside of Shannon's academic pursuits, he was interested in juggling, unicycling, and chess. He also invented many devices, including a Roman numeral computer called THROBAC, juggling machines, and a flame-throwing trumpet.He built a device that could solve the Rubik's Cube puzzle.
Shannon designed the Minivac 601, a digital computer trainer to teach business people about how computers functioned. It was sold by the Scientific Development Corp starting in 1961.
He is also considered the co-inventor of the first wearable computer along with Edward O. Thorp.The device was used to improve the odds when playing roulette.
Shannon married Norma Levor, a wealthy, Jewish, left-wing intellectual in January 1940. The marriage ended in divorce after about a year. Levor later married Ben Barzman.
Shannon met his second wife, Betty Shannon (née Mary Elizabeth Moore), when she was a numerical analyst at Bell Labs. They were married in 1949.Betty assisted Claude in building some of his most famous inventions. They had three children.
Shannon presented himself as apolitical and an atheist.
There are six statues of Shannon sculpted by Eugene Daub: one at the University of Michigan; one at MIT in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems; one in Gaylord, Michigan; one at the University of California, San Diego; one at Bell Labs; and another at AT&T Shannon Labs.After the breakup of the Bell System, the part of Bell Labs that remained with AT&T Corporation was named Shannon Labs in his honor.
According to Neil Sloane, an AT&T Fellow who co-edited Shannon's large collection of papers in 1993, the perspective introduced by Shannon's communication theory (now called information theory) is the foundation of the digital revolution, and every device containing a microprocessor or microcontroller is a conceptual descendant of Shannon's publication in 1948:"He's one of the great men of the century. Without him, none of the things we know today would exist. The whole digital revolution started with him." The cryptocurrency unit shannon (a synonym for gwei) is named after him.
A Mind at Play , a biography of Shannon written by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman, was published in 2017.
On April 30, 2016, Shannon was honored with a Google Doodle to celebrate his life on what would have been his 100th birthday.
The Bit Player , a feature film about Shannon directed by Mark Levinson premiered at the World Science Festival in 2019.Drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon in his house in the 1980s, the film was released on Amazon Prime in August 2020.
"Theseus", created in 1950, was a mechanical mouse controlled by an electromechanical relay circuit that enabled it to move around a labyrinth of 25 squares.The maze configuration was flexible and it could be modified arbitrarily by rearranging movable partitions. The mouse was designed to search through the corridors until it found the target. Having travelled through the maze, the mouse could then be placed anywhere it had been before, and because of its prior experience it could go directly to the target. If placed in unfamiliar territory, it was programmed to search until it reached a known location and then it would proceed to the target, adding the new knowledge to its memory and learning new behavior. Shannon's mouse appears to have been the first artificial learning device of its kind.
In 1949 Shannon completed a paper (published in March 1950) which estimates the game-tree complexity of chess, which is approximately 10120. This number is now often referred to as the "Shannon number", and is still regarded today as an accurate estimate of the game's complexity. The number is often cited as one of the barriers to solving the game of chess using an exhaustive analysis (i.e. brute force analysis).
On March 9, 1949, Shannon presented a paper called "Programming a Computer for playing Chess". The paper was presented at the National Institute for Radio Engineers Convention in New York. He described how to program a computer to play chess based on position scoring and move selection. He proposed basic strategies for restricting the number of possibilities to be considered in a game of chess. In March 1950 it was published in Philosophical Magazine , and is considered one of the first articles published on the topic of programming a computer for playing chess, and using a computer to solve the game.
His process for having the computer decide on which move to make was a minimax procedure, based on an evaluation function of a given chess position. Shannon gave a rough example of an evaluation function in which the value of the black position was subtracted from that of the white position. Material was counted according to the usual chess piece relative value (1 point for a pawn, 3 points for a knight or bishop, 5 points for a rook, and 9 points for a queen).He considered some positional factors, subtracting ½ point for each doubled pawn, backward pawn, and isolated pawn; mobility was incorporated by adding 0.1 point for each legal move available.
Shannon formulated a version of Kerckhoffs' principle as "The enemy knows the system". In this form it is known as "Shannon's maxim".
This section needs to be updated.(April 2016)
The Shannon centenary, 2016, marked the life and influence of Claude Elwood Shannon on the hundredth anniversary of his birth on April 30, 1916. It was inspired in part by the Alan Turing Year. An ad hoc committee of the IEEE Information Theory Society including Christina Fragouli, Rüdiger Urbanke, Michelle Effros, Lav Varshney and Sergio Verdú,coordinated worldwide events. The initiative was announced in the History Panel at the 2015 IEEE Information Theory Workshop Jerusalem and the IEEE Information Theory Society Newsletter.
A detailed listing of confirmed events was available on the website of the IEEE Information Theory Society.
Some of the planned activities included:
The Claude E. Shannon Award was established in his honor; he was also its first recipient, in 1972.
The bit is the most basic unit of information in computing and digital communications. The name is a contraction of binary digit. The bit represents a logical state with one of two possible values. These values are most commonly represented as either "1" or "0", but other representations such as true/false, yes/no, +/−, or on/off are commonly used.
Nokia Bell Labs is an American industrial research and scientific development company owned by Finnish company Nokia. With headquarters located in Murray Hill, New Jersey, the company operates several laboratories in the United States and around the world. Bell Labs has its origins in the complex past of the Bell System.
Computer science is the study of algorithmic processes, computational machines and computation itself. As a discipline, computer science spans a range of topics from theoretical studies of algorithms, computation and information to the practical issues of implementing computational systems in hardware and software.
Information theory is the scientific study of the quantification, storage, and communication of digital information. The field was fundamentally established by the works of Harry Nyquist and Ralph Hartley, in the 1920s, and Claude Shannon in the 1940s. The field is at the intersection of probability theory, statistics, computer science, statistical mechanics, information engineering, and electrical engineering.
Quantum information is the information of the state of a quantum system. It is the basic entity of study in quantum information theory, and can be manipulated using quantum information processing techniques. Quantum information refers to both the technical definition in terms of Von Neumann entropy and the general computational term.
Ivan Edward Sutherland is an American computer scientist and Internet pioneer, widely regarded as a pioneer of computer graphics. His early work in computer graphics as well as his teaching with David C. Evans in that subject at the University of Utah in the 1970s was pioneering in the field. Sutherland, Evans, and their students from that era developed several foundations of modern computer graphics. He received the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1988 for the invention of Sketchpad, an early predecessor to the sort of graphical user interface that has become ubiquitous in personal computers. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as the National Academy of Sciences among many other major awards. In 2012 he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology for "pioneering achievements in the development of computer graphics and interactive interfaces".
Richard Wesley Hamming was an American mathematician whose work had many implications for computer engineering and telecommunications. His contributions include the Hamming code, the Hamming window, Hamming numbers, sphere-packing, and the Hamming distance.
Coding theory is the study of the properties of codes and their respective fitness for specific applications. Codes are used for data compression, cryptography, error detection and correction, data transmission and data storage. Codes are studied by various scientific disciplines—such as information theory, electrical engineering, mathematics, linguistics, and computer science—for the purpose of designing efficient and reliable data transmission methods. This typically involves the removal of redundancy and the correction or detection of errors in the transmitted data.
Roberto Mario "Robert" Fano was an Italian-American computer scientist and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems" is a paper published in 1949 by Claude Shannon discussing cryptography from the viewpoint of information theory. It is one of the foundational treatments of modern cryptography. It is also a proof that all theoretically unbreakable ciphers must have the same requirements as the one-time pad.
Robert Gray Gallager is an American electrical engineer known for his work on information theory and communications networks.
"A Mathematical Theory of Communication" is an article by mathematician Claude E. Shannon published in Bell System Technical Journal in 1948. It was renamed The Mathematical Theory of Communication in the 1949 book of the same name, a small but significant title change after realizing the generality of this work. It became one of the most cited scientific articles and gave rise to the field of information theory.
The history of computer science began long before our modern discipline of computer science, usually appearing in forms like mathematics or physics. Developments in previous centuries alluded to the discipline that we now know as computer science. This progression, from mechanical inventions and mathematical theories towards modern computer concepts and machines, led to the development of a major academic field, massive technological advancement across the Western world, and the basis of a massive worldwide trade and culture.
Richard Blahut, former chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, is best known for his work in information theory. He received his PhD Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 1972.
The Shannon–Weaver model of communication has been called the "mother of all models." Social Scientists use the term to refer to an integrated model of the concepts of information source, message, transmitter, signal, channel, noise, receiver, information destination, probability of error, encoding, decoding, information rate, channel capacity. However, some consider the name to be misleading, asserting that the most significant ideas were developed by Shannon alone.
Thomas M. Cover [ˈkoʊvər] was an information theorist and professor jointly in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Statistics at Stanford University. He devoted almost his entire career to developing the relationship between information theory and statistics.
Kenneth Lane Thompson is an American pioneer of computer science. Thompson worked at Bell Labs for most of his career where he designed and implemented the original Unix operating system. He also invented the B programming language, the direct predecessor to the C programming language, and was one of the creators and early developers of the Plan 9 operating system. Since 2006, Thompson has worked at Google, where he co-invented the Go programming language.
A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age is a biography of Claude Shannon, an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as "the father of information theory". The biography was written by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman, and published by Simon & Schuster in 2017. A Mind at Play is the second biography co-authored by Soni and Goodman, the first being a biography of Cato entitled Rome's Last Citizen.
Raymond W. Yeung is an information theorist, a professor of information engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the co-director of the Institute of Network Coding.
Shannon described himself as an atheist and was outwardly apolitical.
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