Shannon centenary

This year, we celebrate 100 years since the birth of Claude Shannon, the father of information theory. To mark the occasion, a number of outreach centennial events are organized worldwide, aiming to make the contributions of Claude Shannon and information theory more widely known to the general public.

At Chalmers, we have a Shannon event on April 7, and we are also receiving school children within the Gothenburg Science Festival to talk about communication technology and Shannon.

On these webpages we have gathered popular science information, mostly produced and distributed by IEEE Information Theory Society, but we welcome contributors to these pages from Chalmers. Please contact

In 1948, Claude Shannon, a young engineer and mathematician working at Bell Telephone Laboratories, published "A Mathematical Theory of Communicaion," a seminal paper that marked the birth of information theory. In that paper, Shannon defined what the once fuzzy concept of "information" meant for communication engineers and proposed a precise way to quantify it - in his theory, the fundamental unit of information is the bit. He also showed how data could be "compressed" before transmission and how virtually error-free communication could be achieved. The concepts Shannon developed in his paper are at the heart of today's digital information technology. Cell phones, computer networks, hard drives, modems, memory chips, encryption schemes, CDs, DVDs, MP3 music, optical communication, high-definition television - all these things embody many of Shannon's ideas and others inspired by him. But despite the importance of his work and its influence on everyday life, Claude Shannon
is still unknown to most people.

More reading:


Erico Guizzo, "The essential message: Claude Shannon and the making of information theory", S.M. thesis, Massachuse tts Institute of Technology, 2003.

John Horgan, "Claude E. Shannon", IEEE Spectrum, April 1992. 

Lav Varshney, "Engineering Theory and Mathematics in the Early Development of Information Theory", in Proceedings of the 2004 IEEE Conference on the History of Electronics, Bletchley Park, England, 28-30 June 2004.

Robert Price, "A Conversation with Claude Shannon: One Man's Approach to Problem-Solving," IEEE Communications Maga zine, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 123–126, 1984.

Published: Thu 24 Mar 2016. Modified: Fri 01 Apr 2016