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Widely renowned as “the father of information theory,” Claude Shannon (1916–2001) was an American mathematician and technology pioneer working in fields such as cryptography who is known for developing some innovative ideas about technology and coding.
Claude Shannon was active in the field of cartography during World War II, in the frantic effort on both sides to gain a position of advantage. Prior to that, he gained fame as a student at MIT with a thesis about the electrical applications of Boolean algebra. Shannon also became known for contributions to the field of predictive coding with algorithms, for instance, in game theory, where a “Shannon number” refers to the number of play tree calculations in a chess game. Shannon is also known for the Shannon-Fano algorithm, which uses complex mathematics to determine the results and/or environment for compression and decompression.
In addition to these sorts of groundbreaking contributions, Shannon is also celebrated in today’s technology world in a much broader way. As presented in a 2004 Claude E. Shannon award acceptance speech by Robert McEliece, Shannon is seen as “formulating the notion of channel capacity” which experts explain relates to the use of today’s real-time communications tools built into smart phones and other devices. In this way, the tech community credits Shannon with quite a lot of the conceptual work behind driving the innovations that we enjoy in the early twenty-first century.