This paper kickstarted the concept of information theory, and was hugely influential on many fields of research. Signal-to-noise ratio, the bit, information entropy, etc. are all theories and concepts presented by Shannon.
I would like to share with you a few pages from the intro to my thesis which cover Shannon's channel coding theorem. There are some nice TiKZ illustrations. http://minireference.com/static/excerpts/Shannon_channel_cod... (it's not super detailed, but the definitions of all the moving parts are given)
in case somebody is interested in more than the 15 pages provided in the excerpt, here's ivan's complete thesis:
I'm still following quantum information theory research, but more as a spectator from the sidelines. However, a couple of weeks ago I had to come back to quantum info. theory to "defend" my academic reputation. Our colleagues from TIFR found a bug in one of our papers (http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.3645v3) so my coauthor and I had to fix it. It was kind of cool to see I hadn't "lost my quantum skills" after two years of running a business. I guess, once you go quantum you never go back? :)
I had the exact same thought in college when I started reading a handful of well-written papers like this myself. This really set a standard that for 60+ years now academia hasn't always maintained.
All notes and stuff can be found here: https://sites.google.com/a/cs.usfca.edu/cs-636-2011s/schedul...
I learned a ton about MapReduce and GFS. It was a great learning experience.
This paper establishes special relativity, and is remarquable for how clear it is, revolutionizing physics while using only elementary math. The first "Kinematical" part in particular does not use anything more complex mathematically than Pythagorus theorem. It is so clear that the explanations and though experiments are reproduced in all textbooks to this day; the only change is that textbooks include diagrams.
Modern readers turning to Einstein’s famous 1905 paper on special relativity
may not find what they expect. Its title, “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies,”
gives no inkling that it will develop an account of space and time that will topple
Newton’s system. Even its first paragraph just calls to mind an elementary experimental
result due to Faraday concerning the interaction of a magnet and conductor.
This paper is incredibly ahead of its time. While elliptic curves in cryptography are usually attributed to Hendrik Lenstra for destructive purposes (ECM factorization), and Koblitz and Miller for constructive purposes in 1985, this paper contains almost everything relevant to practical curve-based cryptography long before everyone else. Highlights include:
- Hessian, Jacobian quartic, and Jacobian intersection curves, and derivation of respective fast addition and doubling formulas; they also comment on the value of unified addition formulas for simplicity.
- The "Montgomery" ladder for "x-only" Jacobian intersections: Peter Montgomery was directly influenced by this paper to produce his curves, and it is easy to see the resemblance.
- The idea of working in genus 2, and formulas for genus 2 Kummer surface doubling. Hyperelliptic curve cryptography was only later proposed by Koblitz in 1987. Almost 3 decades later, Kummer surfaces are now the fastest way to do scalar multiplication on beefy hardware.
(12 pages, quick read)
It's really an interesting situation; thinking about how there would no longer be an 'unambiguous' measure of time when we have faster than light travel.
I try to separate academic Krugman from New York Times Krugman. It helps.
I don't. I have much respect for the man.
But his NYT writings can sometimes lean towards what might be described as "left-wing blowhardism".
Gives a good amount of insight into how academia works for mathematics, and gives a good contrast with how CS works. Don't be scared by the abstract, it's a completely non-technical paper. The academic/research culture can be more important than the results.
There have been derivative works on giving presentations, that I also particularly like: Editorial: Effective Presentations—A Must. 
 In case you don't know of him: he is the most cited living chemist, or something to this effect
Partly because of the fundamental importance of the paper, elucidating the structure of DNA; partly for the wonderfully understated third to last paragraph: "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material."
Some biologists may cringe (especially the Gould haters), but I don't think I've ever been so engrossed by any other scholarly paper. It is a joy to read. Very approachable for non-biologists. The papers critique of sloppy "just so" reasoning, could easily be extended to Data Scientists/Engineers/Entrepreneurs. Highly recommend!
There are other bones to pick with Gould, but these are the ones that make him impossible to read as an interested layperson without personally verifying every sentence.
Very nice intro to type systems.
"A Language-based Approach to Unifying Events and Threads" (Peng Li, Steve Zdancewic) http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~stevez/papers/LZ06b.pdf
For showing that if you have a sufficiently powerful programming language, the answer to the question "async events or multiple threads?" can be "the best of both worlds".
"The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls"
(James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, Michael Meurer)
If you ever wondered exactly how much wealth is destroyed by the US patent system, this paper provides some educated guesstimates.
Mostly because, it's not actually about just REST, but the way he derives REST as a reasonable approach to architect hypermedia/hypertext "applications" (In quotes, because, he's not really talking about "web apps" -- he mentions some other patterns that do describe "web apps" though).
I have the impression few people read and understood his paper, and run around with REST like others run around with MVC. Which brings us to:
Trygve M. H. Reenskaug's "MVC" (neé Model-View-Controller-User): http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/themes/mvc/mvc-index.html
and, newer, less known: "DCI - A new Role Based Paradigm for specifying collaborating objects":
I think that sums up the "papers" I generally refer back to, and find myself frustrated that so few people seem to have read and/or understood. Which leads to strange discussions and unhealthy re-inventions and "improvements".
Oh, I really enjoy some of the work of VPRI/Alan Kay -- but they've been rather thin on useful papers, as far as I can tell. I did enjoy a paper on Croquet's TeaTime protocol/world model -- but sadly I can't seem to find it... hang on, I think it might be this one here:
"Designing croquet's TeaTime: a real-time, temporal environment for active object cooperation":
All less impressive than Shannon, Einstein, Knuth etc... but I really find those interesting.
I also don't think it is particularly wandering or obtuse.
> It reads like something from the philosophy department
Well, it is titled for "doctor of philosophy" ;-) (in Information and Computer Science).
BTW, how long is that DNA article? A cursory search only reveals articles that are cut off on the second page (at "inner-").
If we're talking about the quality of the actual thesis as a separate document that has value on its own, the sandwich thesis isn't great though. No one would argue that it needs to be an entirely separate piece of work from your papers, but there's a legitimate case for requiring it to be pretty heavily edited into something resembling a book rather than a collection of articles on the same topic.
I've been attempting to write a paper on virtualization and other Cloud/datacenter machine managing software. This was one of the first papers I read in my Cloud Computing class, and I actually recently came back to it after becoming lost reading countless papers on more specific cloud research. It really clears up a lot of confusion on terminology regarding different forms of computing services and the challenges in the field. I wish I knew from the start how much more accurate the statements in this paper are compared to a lot of other content out there, and that I could have been warned about how misleading that other content would be due to authors trying to validate their own software creations.
Before I came back to it, I was playing with the thought that the cloud is really just corporatization of computing resources that only leaves the biggest players to survive because of profits, which really vibes with this paper. It really is just computing infrastructure as a utility and the idea is nothing new. There are several other papers out there that make the same points, but I appreciate this one for really nailing the practical terminology without any sort of vagueness. It's not surprising that it is such a highly referenced and popular paper.
It's accessible, and it's a good intro to thinking about AI. The field oughta be called even more nifty algorithms.
Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care by Kenneth Arrow (1963) .
This paper effectively makes the case that medical care shouldn't be treated like other goods.
If you're remotely interested in health econ/health industry, I recommend reading it.
The foundation of the Three-Factor model, which shows how market returns can be very accurately described using exposure to market, small, and value factors (as well as term and default factors, primarily used for fixed income). The foundation of modern value investing.
A Stand-Alone, Split-Phase Current-Sourced Inverter With Novel Energy Storage
There's nothing particularly special about this paper except that it was accepted by IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics and I wrote it. :P
A study of competitive swimmers and what separates the mediocre from the great, but widely applicable to many forms of excellence or greatness.
However, many people here are not going to pay the money or have access through their employer, and will miss out. Free Knuth!
Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women and Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. After spending most of my life obese, even after having bariatric surgery to "correct" it, I found I had to dive into the science on my own to see past the charlatans and the demagogues. These two papers lit the way for me.
Why: RPC and its ilk make a lousy model for mobile data, since mobile devices are only occasionally connected, not permanently. Similarly, in the face network and server failures, servers can be modeled as occasionally connected as well. The "replication" mindset is far more productive when dealing with those issues. The linked paper gives a broad overview of a great number of approaches to replication, and is a great way to get the lay of the land.
It simultaneous disproves one notion of efficient markets, and shows how passive indexes can explain most so-called active management. (Much of VC outperformance is explained by the size factor, and much of private equity outperformance is explained by the value factor, both of which can be passively invested in)
It gives insight into the nexus between politics and student unions/student bodies in India. It reads more like a story than a scholarly article.
Funny and inspirational, and shows how primitive a lot of biological research really is: Almost randomly try a bunch of things and take note of anything that has any effect. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The last paper written by Alan Turing, "The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis,"  attempted to answer the theoretical explanation of the biological process that defines the shape of an embryonic organism from creation. This process is called "Morphogenesis". This is an important problem because complex organisms appear to be created by some "random" process that organises what appear to be self similar cells.
A lot of recent work has been done to experiment Turings ideas on "reaction-diffusion" processes describing morphogenesis in biology and other natural systems to see if a) they can be reproduced in the lab and b) mathematically model them. 
There is a pretty good broad outline of Turing and Morphogenesis in a BBC documentary, "The Secret Life of Chaos"  by Professor Jim Al-Khalili on Youtube. 
 Alan Turing, "THE CHEMICAL BASIS OF MORPHOGENESIS,
 Brandon Keim, Wired, "Alan Turing’s Patterns in Nature, and Beyond"
 Jim Al-Khalili, "The Secret Life of Chaos"
 Jim Al-Khalili, "The Secret Life of Chaos"
This paper addressed the question of how galaxies with bridges and tails were formed. It used a series of simulations with gravitationally interacting point masses and associated test particles to represent the disks of two galaxies. It was one of the first papers to convincingly demonstrate that gravitational tidal interactions can create the narrow "tails" seen extending from some galaxies (others had argued that gravity could not make such narrow tails and argued for magetic fields).
This paper also speculated that gravitational interactions between galaxies could result in an increase in the amount of gas at the centers of galaxies and possibly explain the enhanced rate of star formation and supermassive black hole growth seen in some galaxies galaxies.
"Those who get first-generation therapies only just in time will in fact be unlikely to live more than 20–30 years more than their parents, because they will spend many frail years with a short remaining life expectancy (i.e., a high risk of imminent death), whereas those only a little younger will never get that frail and will spend rather few years even in biological middle age. Quantitatively, what this means is that if a 10% per year decline of mortality rates at all ages is achieved and sustained indefinitely, then the first 1000-year-old is probably only 5–10 years younger than the first 150-year-old."
It made me realise how political science can be and how facts on large issues can be covered up for political reasons.
You mean all the facts that Ruston left out made you realize that? I hope that's what you mean, as that paper is a dog.
Here's a better paper on closely related topics, by authors who have advanced the research considerably:
Nisbett, R. E., Aronson, J., Blair, C., Dickens, W., Flynn, J., Halpern, D. F., & Turkheimer, E. (2012). Intelligence: New findings and theoretical developments. American Psychologist, 67, 130-159.
I find papers that challenge my ideas more enlightening than ones that reinforce them. Which obviously makes sense I guess.
The paper I linked I considered reputable enough, in a topic known to be difficult, to be of note. Every paper has issues, the trick is working out if the issues kill the paper or not.
This paper achieves a wonderful balance between being incredibly important and almost absurdly easy to read and understand.
How to think/discover with maximum advantage. A jewel of an article, the most photocopied SCIENCE article I've ever encountered in library stacks. Foundation to methodological adventures.
It's remarkably accessible and clear (at least Part I is).
P.W. Anderson, "More is different", https://www.tkm.kit.edu/downloads/TKM1_2011_more_is_differen...
R. B. Laughlin and D. Pines, "The theory of everything", http://www.pnas.org/content/97/1/28.full.pdf&embedded=true
A topic which seems at first rather obscure overlaps with something relatable to yield a fascinating result. The blog post  was especially enticing for non-specialists like myself.
Favorite paper/dissertation for sheer simplicity, elegance, and far-reaching power of the approach to the problem: http://web.mit.edu/vkm/www/vkm-dissertation.pdf
Not ground breaking by any means, but it's the only time I've genuinely laughed out loud when reading a paper.
Much for the same reason I like Filedings REST thesis (see other comment in this thread): the reasoning that goes into it. The "types" have since been "debunked" -- but IMNHO that sort of misses the point: that he has an interesting way of looking at what makes a game fun, and how things like lack of automapping can stimulate player communication.
Completely dissociative groupoids. http://mb.math.cas.cz/mb137-1/6.html
Software complexity related to mutable state.