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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 16 Number 1 -- Reviews

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129798D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 7 page(s) / 95K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PEGGY A. KIDWELL: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The Reviews department includes reviews of publications, films, audio- and videotapes, and exhibits relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of technical, economic, business, social, and institutional aspects or other works of interest to Annals readers are briefly noted, with appropriate bibliographic information. Colleagues are encouraged to recommend works they wish to review and to suggest titles to the Reviews editor Claude Elwood Shannon: Collected Papers, N.J.A. Sloane and Aaron D. Wyner, eds., IEEE Press, New York, 1992, 924 pp., $69.95.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1994 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Reviews

PEGGY A. KIDWELL, EDITOR

The Reviews department includes reviews of publications, films, audio- and videotapes, and exhibits relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of technical, economic, business, social, and institutional aspects or other works of interest to Annals readers are briefly noted, with appropriate bibliographic information.

Colleagues are encouraged to recommend works they wish to review and to suggest titles to the Reviews editor

Claude Elwood Shannon: Collected Papers, N.J.A. Sloane and Aaron D. Wyner, eds., IEEE Press, New York, 1992, 924 pp., $69.95.

Claude Shannon was one of those who created the scientific and engineering world we live in. and the publication of his College level Palmers is a significant event. They enable us to see what he did, and by reading carefully between the lines we can see to some extent how he did it. To this I will add, since for many years we worked in the same department, some of my personal experiences and opinions, which hopefully will modify the formal interviewer's remarks. Thus this review is in three parts.

First, the contents of the book. All of his published papers, as well as many internal Bell Telephone Laboratories reports, are included, though some only by title, and both his master's and his (unpublished) doctoral theses are included.

His early life and ancestry are given in a short biography, along with a professional interview. His scientific career really began when he went to MIT as an assistant helping to run the old Bush differential analyzer. This inspired him to write a number of papers on the theory of the differential analyzer, as well as inspiring his lifelong interest in switching. His master's thesis, as is well known, gave the first formal mathematical description for switching circuits, thus combining the fragments that the switching people knew into a working body of knowledge and thereby greatly advancing the whole area. Later this interest of his grew into contributions to automata theory, chess playing by computers, AI, and other related fields.

His doctoral thesis was in genetics and is not well known since it was not published. The Collected Papers give evidence (in the form of two solicited letters) that if his results had become widely known at the time, then they would have been a significant contribution to the field. But because they were not, most of what he found had to be rediscovered.

His greatest work, by universal agreement, is information theory, which was done after he went to Bell Telephone Laboratories. I have often wondered how people thought about the telephone business before he produced his theory, and find it hard to put myself in their position. Information theory brought together many divergent strands of work done...