[TUHS] RIP Claude Shannon

Bakul Shah bakul at bitblocks.com
Mon Feb 26 09:31:08 AEST 2018

Mitchell Waldrop's "The Dream Machine: J. C.  R. Licklider and
the Revolution That Made Computing Personal" book has probably
been discussed on this list in the past. It has pages full of
fascinating stuff about Claude Shannon & his work. For instance:

  "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" has
  just the kind of cerebral exuberance you'd expect from a
  very bright twenty-one-year-old. Shannon's thesis is
  downright fun to read--and strangely compelling, given
  what's happened in the six decades since it was written.
  That ability, in turn, is ultimately what makes a modern
  digital computer so much more than just an adding machine:
  it can work its way through a sequence of such decisions
  automatically. In a word, it can be programmed. And that's
  why "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" is
  arguably the most influential master's thesis of the
  twentieth century: in it Claude Shannon laid the theoretical
  foundation for all of modern computer design
  Legend has it that Claude Shannon published "A Mathematical
  Theory of Communication" in 1948 only because his boss at
  Bell Labs finally badgered him into it. And whatever the
  truth of that story, the point is that no one who knew
  Shannon has any trouble believing it.

  "He wrote beautiful papers--when he wrote," says Robert
  Fano, who became a leader of MIT's information-theory group
  in the 1950s and still has a reverential photograph of
  Shannon hanging in his office. "And he gave beautiful talks-
  when he gave a talk.  But he hated to do it."

  It wasn't a matter of Shannon's being lazy, Fano says; he
  was constantly filling up notebooks with ideas, theorems,
  and calculations. He just wouldn't publish--or not very
  often, anyway. No, Shannon's reticence seems to have been
  more a matter of extraordinary self-sufficiency.

and much more. A book well worth reading.

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