New Delhi: Known as the ‘father of information theory’, Claude Shannon was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer.
As a cryptographer for the US government in World War II, Shannon developed the first unbreakable cipher. He juggled between tinkering with electronic switches to developing an electro-mechanic mouse called ‘Theseus’ which could teach itself to navigate a maze, much like the modern-day artificial intelligence.
It’s impossible to overstate the legacy of Claude Shannon. The paper he wrote for his Master’s thesis is the foundation of electronic digital computing. As a cryptographer for the U.S. government during WWII, he developed the first unbreakable cipher. For fun, he tinkered with electronic switches, and one of his inventions–an electromechanic mouse he called Theseus–could teach itself to navigate a maze.
He was often spotted in the halls of Bell Labs on a unicycle, and invented such devices as the rocket-powered frisbee and flame-throwing trumpet.
The mathematician is most famous for his ‘A Mathematical Theory of Communication’, published in 1949, in which he introduced information theory, the branch of mathematics focused on transmitting digital data. It was in this work that he coined the term ‘bit’ – the fundamental unit of information which relates to digital certainty: true or false, on or off, yes or no.
Shannon is also known to have worked with Albert Einstein and Alan Turing. His work in electronic communications and signal processing gained him the title of the ‘father of information theory’ which led to revolutionary changes in storage and transmission of data.
Commemorating what would have been his 100th birthday, Google has posted a doodle created by artist Nate Swinehart celebrating the brilliance and lightheartedness of the father of modern communication.