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Meeting Shannon: Information-theoretic thinking in engineering and science

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1 Author(s)
Varshney, L.R. ; Lab. for Inf. & Decision Syst., Massachusetts Inst. of Technol., Cambridge, MA

Figure 1 of Shannonpsilas 1948 paper, a schematic diagram of a general communication system, captures the entire essence of communication. Such a block diagram defines a closed universe for deducing fundamental limits, influences the cognitive processes of information theorists, and shapes the design of technology. The power and fundamental nature of the diagram and the theory within it are the prime reasons I have been drawn to information theory. Taking a personal and anthropological approach rather than a strictly historical one, I argue that block diagrams are metonyms for theorems in information theory and moreover that these powerful abstractions are applicable beyond the classical communication problem. I will briefly describe a few of my projects that use diagrammatic thinking for studies in neuroscience, energy transmission, and decoding.

Published in:

Information Theory Workshop, 2008. ITW '08. IEEE

Date of Conference:

5-9 May 2008