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Claude Shannon (wikipedia.org)
25 points by infinity on Dec 3, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments

There's currently an exhibit on Shannon at the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn Germany: http://en.hnf.de/Special_exhibitions/Shannon/Shannon.asp

He built some very cool toys for his kids, some of which are on display there. Here's a video of him with some of his juggling machines http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBHGzRxfeJY

While we're on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann

Who are their contemporary equivalents, I wonder? Would Alan Kay and his lab's FONC [1] research qualify? I suppose time will tell...

1. http://vpri.org/html/words_links/articles_ifnct.php

More recently, Doug Engelbart, Don Knuth?

I do not know whether Don Knuth is in the same category. (Though if you have to convert it to some linear scale of greatness, he's in.)

You can also read about Claude Shannon in "You and Your Research" [0] from Richard W. Hamming. An excerpt:

"One of the characteristics of successful scientists is having courage. Once you get your courage up and believe that you can do important problems, then you can. If you think you can't, almost surely you are not going to. Courage is one of the things that Shannon had supremely. You have only to think of his major theorem. He wants to create a method of coding, but he doesn't know what to do so he makes a random code. Then he is stuck. And then he asks the impossible question, "What would the average random code do?" He then proves that the average code is arbitrarily good, and that therefore there must be at least one good code. Who but a man of infinite courage could have dared to think those thoughts? That is the characteristic of great scientists; they have courage. They will go forward under incredible circumstances; they think and continue to think."

[0] e.g. http://www.chris-lott.org/misc/kaiser.html

Not to pile on, but don't forget Paul Dirac:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Dirac who's eponymous Delta Dirac function is essential for signals (e.g. information theory) analysis.

Oh yeah. He also basically invented modern wave theory.

And antimatter? (Or at least anti-electrons?)

Poor George Boole. 150 years later and all he got was a lousy t-shirt and a data type named after him.

Be nice if the article defined 'made a fortune.'

Wow that guy was awesome, I can't believe I'd never heard of him.

That's pretty sad for the computer science education at the present time. The discipline somewhat lacks of proper education for the history for information technology and big past contribution and great ideas.

In fairness to computer science education I didn't study computer science. Though as an electrical engineering student I did do a lot of logic gate construction, it seems like this guys name should have come up!

An EE aught to know about Shanon more than a CS. Haven't you brushed against (digital) signal processing?

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