The Story of Claude Shannon​ – The Father of Information Theory


Podcasts – I have mentioned the Internet History Podcast before. It is one of the podcasts that I subscribe and listen to on a regular basis. While the podcast “CLAUDE SHANNON, FATHER OF INFORMATION THEORY” was published back on May 27, 2018, I finally just got around to listening to it today and I wanted to share it.

This episode of the Internet History podcast deals with Claude Shannon. Specifically, it is an interview with authors Jimmy Sony and Rob Goodman. They have published the biography of Claude Shannon entitled “A Mind At Play, How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age“. During the interview, they give a brief glimpse of Shannon’s life.

Shanon was a mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer. he is most noted though for being the ‘father’ of information theory. His 1948 paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” laid the groundwork for modern digital communications. Just as important though was his work in digital circuit design theory. His Masters Thesis at MIT demonstrated that electrical applications of Boolean algebra could construct any logical numerical relationship. This is a foundation of modern digital computers.

In information theory, the Shannon–Hartley theorem gives the maximum rate at which information can be transmitted over a communications channel of a specified bandwidth in the presence of noise. This formula, which I saw repeatedly in graduate school, is:

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 7.06.40 pm

where (from the Wikipedia page)


  • C is the channel capacity in bits per second, a theoretical upper bound on the net bit rate (information rate, sometimes denoted I) excluding error-correction codes;
  • B is the bandwidth of the channel in hertz (passband bandwidth in case of a bandpass signal);
  • S is the average received signal power over the bandwidth (in case of a carrier-modulated passband transmission, often denoted C), measured in watts (or volts squared);
  • N is the average power of the noise and interference over the bandwidth, measured in watts (or volts squared); and
  • S/N is the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) or the carrier-to-noise ratio (CNR) of the communication signal to the noise and interference at the receiver (expressed as a linear power ratio, not as logarithmic decibels).

If you are interested in computers, mathematics or engineering, you might want to dedicate an hour to listen to this podcast.

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