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Claude Elwood Shannon

Shannon, Claude Elwood, 1916–2001, American applied mathematician, b. Gaylord, Michigan. A student of Vannevar Bush at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he was the first to propose the application of symbolic logic to the design of relay circuitry with his paper "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" (1938). His insight that all data could be encoded as a series of 1's and 0's pioneered the breakthrough in digital electronics that led to the modern digital computer and telecommunications networks. Shannon worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1941–72 and initiated the field of information theory with his 1948 paper "A Mathematical Theory of Communication," which was retitled The Mathematical Theory of Communication when published in 1949 with a preface by Warren Weaver. Shannon returned to MIT in 1958, although he remained a consultant with Bell Telephone. Over the next two decades his curiosity about the fledgling field of artificial intelligence led him to build and experiment with such things as chess-playing, maze-solving, juggling, and mind-reading machines.

See C. E. Shannon et al., Claude Elwood Shannon: Collected Papers (1993).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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