Death of Claude Shannon

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Death of Claude Shannon
Date: 28 Feb 2001 06:51:55 -0000

On a sad note, Claude Shannon passed away February 24, 2001. He was
84. The kind gentleman will be missed.

Few realize it, but he was the father of the digital revolution, too.

His masters thesis, "Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching
Circuits", in 1941, established the isomorphism between electronic
switches and the Boolean algebra. It made switching theory a science,
and defined digital electronics.

It was, singularly, the most important masters thesis of the

His book, "The Mathematical Theory of Communication", 1949, laid the
foundation for information theory-for which he is regarded as the
father of a new science.

Since then, information theory has revolutionized mathematics itself,
and is the cornerstone of modern economic theory.

Many, including G. J Chaitin, ("Information-Theoretic Incompleteness",
1992,) and the logicians Rudy Rucker and Raymond Smullyan, consider
information theory to be the foundation of thinking in the 21'st
century; it has become the tool of preference in the science of
complexity theory-the study of social systems, economic systems and
the like, and is intimately linked to fractal and nonlinear dynamical
system theory.

Shannon was a shy, unassuming, and retiring individual, (with a large
antique bicycle collection,) that always had time for people.

He will be missed.


BTW, the Internet would not exist without his information theory.  Its
the way that it adapts to the service demands that are placed on it
throughout the day-its a gigantic, world wide, adaptive control
system. And it does it all automatically, (well, almost.)

So the story goes, Shannon was the first to realize that the stock
market operated by entropic, (information has entropy, or randomness,
like the Boltzman's gases, or Heisenberg's uncertainty of physics-both
of which are regarded as information-theoretic phenomena today,)
principles, and, allegedly became quite wealthy in the 50's using
information theory for the first time to optimize/maximize portfolio
growth. We call it the CAPM today, and it is based on the random walk
fractal model of equity prices.

But he always had time to kibitz with the students at the
IEEE Information Theory conferences, and was a gifted and
interesting speaker, on many topics. But outside of his domain,
he was quite and retiring.

For further information:

For more details about Shannon's unique contributions:

The first application of information theory to speculative
markets/endevors, J. L. Kelly, 1956:

"A New Interpretation of Information Rate", which defined the relation
between a binary symmetric channel's capacity and optimal portfolio


John Conover,,

Copyright © 2001 John Conover, All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: Thu Mar 1 18:45:24 PST 2001 $Id: 010227225207.13418.html,v 1.0 2001/11/17 23:05:50 conover Exp $
Valid HTML 4.0!