Claude Shannon

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Today would have been Claude Shannon‘s 100th birthday. What did Claude Shannon do? Quite a bit:

Claude Elwood Shannon (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as “the father of information theory”.[1][2]

Shannon is noted for having founded information theory with a landmark paper that he published in 1948. He is perhaps equally well known for founding 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.[3] Shannon contributed to the field of cryptanalysis for national defense during World War II, including his basic work on codebreaking and secure telecommunications.


  1. Dan Kurt says:

    A year of so after Sputnik, while in high school, I took a course (sans lab) in the evenings twice a week for my first three college credits: Circuits 1. We started with about 200 high school students from all over the city, and at the end there were less than 15 of us, as this was before grade inflation. Money was flowing into the hard sciences and students were encouraged to become engineers and scientists, so those credits were free to me. There is where I met the esteemed Claude Shannon. The professor handed out copies of his brief article; as I recall it was no more than three pages, if that, on Boolean Algebra and logic circuits.

    I next encountered Boolean Algebra in a math course in college in the early 1960s when, in the days before computers and calculators, it was one part of a three-part course: Number Theory, Boolean Algebra, and Linear Algebra. In that course Claude Shannon was not even mentioned, as the mathematicians had no insight into electrical engineering and the digital revolution that was boiling up, changing the world.

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