Claude Shannon – Father of Communication
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Claude Shannon may not be one of the most famous of all inventors; however his pioneering work is important for both telephones and computers. For many, he is considered the “father of communication.” It is because of his work that our instant communication is possible.
Shannon worked at MIT in the late 30′s. He primarily worked in the field of logic trying to apply logic to relay circuits. He wanted to be able to apply the true-false of Boolean logic to an on and off switch. He received his doctorate in 1940. Shannon started out at Bell Labs in 1941 and he spent 31 years there. One of the main things he accomplished while at Bell was the publishing of “The Mathematical Theory of Communication.” He did have some help from Warren Weaver on this Bell System Technical Journal. This publication was an easy to read document which we would now term an “information theory.” This is the field that was instrumental for developing all the modern electronic communications we have available today. While Shannon is not as familiar as Einstein, his work is among some of the most important for communication as we know it. He simply started out looking for a way to get rid of noisy connections on the telephone.
Information on Communication
After Shannon introduced his theory of communication, he analyzed the idea of information itself. His paper, “Mathematical Theory of Communication: outlines his ideas about information. In his thinking “information” is a large part of predictable messages, data sets, pictures and sounds. He is also the mathematician who introduced the concept of data compression. To illustrate how this “information” system works think about flipping a coin. There are only two things that are certain – either you will end up with a heads or a tails; 1 or 0. A set of characters is used to display the data set. To keep from having to transmit each character, each outcome is given its own code. This is where his mathematical theory of communication began.
Communication in Mathematical Terms
What Shannon was attempting to do was to look for the best way to transmit information. If the signal is not clear then it can be misunderstood by the one receiving the information. He argued that channels of communication and their capacity could be measured in bits per second. It will not matter whether the communication is being shared in numbers, pictures, words or sounds they must all have a readable “source rate” in bits per second. Information is only allowed to flow if the source rate does not exceed the capacity.
Claude Shannon is better known as the founder, or father of information theory. He simply worked out the definition of information. When this information is coded in a mathematical sequence using the most basic available numbers (0 and 1) he was able to show how the information could be distributed and managed by using a series of mechanical switches which move the information through a series of pulses. This is the basic information communication. In essence he invented the language that allows us to transmit communication today over digital sources such as computers via the internet.
Shannon is attributed to founding the digital computer and digital circuit design based on the Boolean system. He constructed a magnetic mouse which was controlled by a relay circuit which allowed it to move around a maze. The mouse had to work through the maze and find the target. When this first form of artificial intelligence was placed in a spot where it had been, it could use prior experience to find the target quickly. If it was placed in an unfamiliar area it was programmed to continue looking for a familiar location and then proceed from there to the target.
Claude Shannon was instrumental in developing computer languages which are the basis of transmitting information today.
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