A natural history of information

Mukunda, Keshav (2014) A natural history of information. At Right Angles, 3 (2). pp. 77-81. ISSN 2582-1873

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In 1948, a paper was submitted to a Bell Labs technical journal, in which the author proposed a new theoretical framework to analyse problems in communication. Suggesting that it be rejected for publication, the reviewer of the paper said it was “poorly motivated and excessively abstract”, and went on to say, “it is unclear for what practical problem it might be relevant … the author mentions computing machines – I guess one could connect such machines, but a recent IBM memo stated that a dozen or so such machines will be sufficient for all the computing that we’ll ever need in the foreseeable future, so there won’t be a whole lot of connecting going on”. While this clearly mistaken reviewer remains anonymous, the author of the submitted paper entitled “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, a relatively young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon, went on to become one of the founding pioneers of the new field called information theory. In fact, Shannon’s 1948 paper – published around the same time that the transistor was invented – essentially created the field of information theory, which has deeply influenced the development of engineering and computer science

Item Type: Articles in APF Magazines
Authors: Mukunda, Keshav
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Information, Bit, Binary, Digit, Communication
Subjects: Natural Sciences > Mathematics
Divisions: Azim Premji University > University Publications > At Right Angles
Full Text Status: Public
URI: http://publications.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/id/eprint/3088
Publisher URL:

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