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Claude Shannon: biologist (information theory used in biology)

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1 Author(s)
Schneider, T.S. ; Center for Cancer Re., Nat. Cancer Inst., Frederick, MD, USA

This paper discusses how Claude Shannon, the founder of information theory, came to be regarded a biologist. It was discovered that Shannon's channel capacity theorem only applied to living organisms and their products, such as communication channels and molecular machines that make choices from several possibilities. Information theory is therefore a theory about biology, which makes Shannon a biologist. Shannon's work then meant that communications systems and molecular biology are headed on a collision course. As electrical circuits approach molecular sizes, the results of molecular biologists can be used to guide designs. There may come a time when communications and biology will be treated as a single field. The codes discovered for communications potentially teach new biology if the same codes are found in biological system. On the other hand, discoveries in molecular biology about systems that have been refined by evolution for billions of years could help build new and more efficient communications systems.

Published in:

Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 1 )