Browse Definitions :
Definition

Claude Shannon

Contributor(s): Jan Tangring

Claude Elwood Shannon, a mathematician born in Gaylord, Michigan (U.S.) in 1916, is credited with two important contributions to information technology: the application of Boolean theory to electronic switching, thus laying the groundwork for the digital computer, and developing the new field called information theory . It is difficult to overstate the impact which Claude Shannon has had on the 20th century and the way we live and work in it, yet he remains practically unknown to the general public. Shannon spent the bulk of his career, a span of over 30 years from 1941 to 1972, at Bell Labs where he worked as a mathematician dedicated to research.

While a graduate student at MIT in the late 1930s, Shannon worked for Vannevar Bush who was at that time building a mechanical computer, the Differential Analyser. Shannon had the insight to apply the two-valued Boolean logic to electrical circuits (which could be in either of two states - on or off). This syncretism of two hitherto distinct fields earned Shannon his MS in 1937 and his doctorate in 1940.

Not content with laying the logical foundations of both the modern telephone switch and the digital computer, Shannon went on to invent the discipline of information theory and revolutionize the field of communications. He developed the concept of entropy in communication systems, the idea that information is based on uncertainty. This concept says that the more uncertainty in a communication channel, the more information that can be transmitted and vice versa. Shannon used mathematics to define the capacity of any communications channel to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio . He envisioned the possibility of error-free communications for telecommunications, the Internet, and satellite systems.

A Mathematical Theory Of Communication , published in the Bell Systems Technical Journal in 1948, outlines the principles of his information theory. Information Theory also has important ramifications for the field of cryptography as explained in his 1949 paper Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems - in a nutshell, the more entropy a cryptographic system has, the harder the resulting encryption is to break.

Shannon's varied retirement interests included inventing unicycles, motorized pogo sticks, and chess-playing robots as well as juggling - he developed an equation describing the relationship between the position of the balls and the action of the hands. Claude Shannon died on February 24, 2001.

This was last updated in September 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • Transport Layer Security (TLS)

    Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a protocol that provides authentication, privacy, and data integrity between two communicating ...

  • van Eck phreaking

    Van Eck phreaking is a form of electronic eavesdropping that reverse engineers the electromagnetic fields (EM fields) produced by...

  • zero-trust model (zero trust network)

    The zero trust model is a security model used by IT professionals that requires strict identity and device verification ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

  • business continuity software

    Business continuity software is an application or suite designed to make business continuity planning/business continuity ...

  • business continuity policy

    Business continuity policy is the set of standards and guidelines an organization enforces to ensure resilience and proper risk ...

SearchStorage

  • solid-state storage

    Solid-state storage (SSS) is a type of computer storage media made from silicon microchips. SSS stores data electronically ...

  • persistent storage

    Persistent storage is any data storage device that retains data after power to that device is shut off. It is also sometimes ...

  • computational storage

    Computational storage is an information technology (IT) architecture in which data is processed at the storage device level to ...

Close