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Claude E. Shannon: a retrospective on his life, work, and impact

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1 Author(s)
R. G. Gallager ; Lab. for Inf. & Decision Syst., MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA

Claude E. Shannon (1948) invented information theory and provided the concepts, insights, and mathematical formulations that now form the basis for modern communication technology. In a surprisingly large number of ways, he enabled the information age. A major part of this influence comes from his two-part monumental 1948 paper, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication.” We attempt here to provide some clues as to how a single person could have such a major impact. We first describe Shannon's life and then study his publications in the communication area. We next consider his research style in the context of these publications. Finally, we consider the process under which the impact of his work evolved from the creation of a beautiful and challenging theory to the establishment of the central principles guiding digital communication technology. We end with some reflections on the research environment that stimulates such work both then and now

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Information Theory  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 7 )