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The Logician and the Engineer: How George Boole and Claude Shannon Created the Information Age
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The Logician and the Engineer: How George Boole and Claude Shannon Created the Information Age

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  23 reviews
How two pioneers of math and technology ushered in the computer revolution

Boolean algebra, also called Boolean logic, is at the heart of the electronic circuitry in everything we use--from our computers and cars, to home appliances. How did a system of mathematics established in the Victorian era become the basis for such incredible technological achievements a century lat
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Hardcover, 228 pages
Published October 28th 2012 by Princeton University Press (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Paul
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, science
The biggest problem with this book in general is that I'm not at all sure what the audience for it is. I was expecting something of a dual biography with some information about information theory. In fact, there's a brief chapter at the beginning that's a bio, but then it's about 8 chapters which are basically just a light textbook on electronics and information theory - kinda like a series of lecture notes for a 1 or 2 week introductory summer school course. The book ends with a terrible introd ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
While replete with challenging mathematics, what the writer attempts here is to place George Boole and Claude Shannon at the forefront of the information age.

Boole famously invented the Boolean algebra in early 1800s, supplying mathematical symbolism to logical arguments so that the limitations of classical Aristotelian logic (all men are mortal, Socrates is a man, so Socrates is mortal) could be turned into a formal useful system.

Boolean algebra had to wait for hundred odd years until a young
...more
Jim Razinha
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Deceptive title..I should have read the reviews...thought I was getting a semi-biographical piece. If I wanted a book on logic, I would have picked a book on logic. One chapter on the two and very loose references to them during the remainder electronic/logic discussions. Look elsewhere if you actually want to read about those two fascinating men.
Maurizio Codogno
Il titolo del libro sembrava promettente, anche se non riuscivo esattamente a capire cosa avessero in comune George Boole e Claude Shannon oltre che essere stati scienziati. All'atto pratico, però, la parte più strettamente biografica è davvero ridotta, e Nahin si mette a scrivere di elettronica di base, da ingegnere qual è, non perdendo occasione di ricordare che la matematica è una scienza arida... citando James Gleick (L'informazione) che è sì un giornalista ma scientifico, e quindi direi non ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Nahin always picks topics I am interested in. He understands where the jewels are in Math and Physics. But I always find his writing overly dense and demanding. I studied this topic for a semester and had an understanding of the concepts involved already but he makes his books too dense seems to think everybody wants to read their college mathematics textbook for leisure. He could get the same ideas across and make it something different than a slog through a book that seems to model itself afte ...more
Chris Esposo
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book with one caveat: it's really not best consumed in audio format. Although one may try, and it would be a good practice in listening-comprehension skills, to really grasp the book, you need the diagrams and printed formulae, which are provided in a 170-page pdf attachment (not all full pages).

That being said, "The Logician and the Engineer" is a well-written tour of elementary Boolean Algebra and Shannon Information, and how the two of those subjects inform the building of
...more
Cassie Thompson
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Even without a technical background, I found this book enjoyable. I especially liked chapters 1,2, and 10 which were the most accessible to me. The puzzles/thought experiments were fun.

HOWEVER...
I was going to give this book 4/5 stars, but that godawful, sexist story in the epilogue really left a nasty final impression. Does not reflect well on the author. ("As the pretty young lady left, Willard found himself admiring her slender ankles, the motion of her firm thighs under a snug dress, her rea
...more
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
This is an unusual book. About two unusual thinkers, Boole (1815-1864) and Shannon (1949-2001). Boole established logic as a branch of mathematics. Shannon used Boolean logic to design electronic circuits and ignited Information Theory. We are in 2012, Nahin is connecting together the achievements of both thinkers to our information age. To do so he describes with some depth a wide range of topics starting with Boolean logic and digital circuits. Passing through probability theory, information t ...more
Ross Nelson
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Like others, I found the title deceptive. The book is more about electronics than the rise of the information age, and there's only a few chapters devoted to the men named in the title. Disappointed.
Miguel Panão
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
The first chapters are great, but after chapter 7, the author begins to deviate a lot from the initial idea of the relation between Boole and Shannon, and we would win a lot if he had used the Language Clarifier of the end story.
Karthik Shashidhar
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Started off promisingly with biographies and puzzles, but then ended up being virtually a textbook of electrical engineering!
Robert
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
In October 2009, Claude Shannon was a featured Innovator of the Month in "A World Perspective" newsletter. He is considered to be the father of information theory. Through his work, Shannon informed engineers that when a message is properly encoded, it could be transmitted across a noisy channel with an error rate below any predefined level. Common examples of noisy channels to be overcome include static on a telephone line and cosmic rays inducing a mutation in a strand of DNA.

I followed this
...more
Mark
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a whim with no research. Shannon is trendy in these days of "Big Data" for his theory of information, and skimming the book it looked like a general history with maybe a bit more technical details than normal. This is more about Shannon as an engineer, though, and Boole of boolean algebra fame as a theoretician.

The early bit is biographical, but it's really just the first bit. Writing is good and full of nice tidbits about two geniuses. Favorite story: Boole got a bad cold th
...more
Brian Clegg
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
For its target readership this is an excellent book – and I have to say as someone outside that market I really enjoyed some parts – but the fact remains it is aimed at a pretty narrow segment. There’s even a little section at the front of the book that effectively says ‘read this to see if you can cope with the rest.’

The bits I found particularly appealing were a few introductory logic problems (though I’m not sure I agreed with all the conclusions) and the pocket biographies of mathematician G
...more
Diego
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Me pareció una lectura muy interesante. Es un recorrido a través de los aportes del matemático George Boole y el ingeniero Claude Shannon: el álgebra booleana y su aplicación para el diseño de circuitos digitales respectivamente. Hace un recuento de las aplicaciones de estos aportes: detección y corrección de errores en sistemas de comunicación, el diseño de hardware, la resolución de problemas de lógica, etc. Al final del libro expone sobre computación cuántica, y cómo podría ser usada la lógic ...more
Andy Plonka
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a non mathematician, this book would have worked better for me had I read it versus listened to the audio version. There were lots equations explained which would have been more comprehensible to me if I had seen them written. That being said, George Boole and Claude Shannon certainly made huge contributions to the fields of electronics and engineering.
Bob
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: math-engineering
This is a book about logic more than anything else. It seems to be an attempt to introduce readers to the subject material, but I am not so sure this is a good source for someone who wants to learn about propositional calculus, etc. This book may generate a distorted understanding, which would have to be unlearned later.
Joyita
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
Not quite what I expected! The content is somewhat bookish (and basic) for electrical engineers. The chapter on quantum computation was slightly more interesting and the language clarifier anecdote in the epilogue mildly amusing.
Andy Plonka
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an adio book this book is hard for the non mathematician to understand. There are many equations read ti you which would be much more comprehensible if one could see it in print. That said, these two men made great contributions to electronics and engineering which can be appreciated by all.
Mills College Library
510.922 N153 2013
Steve Gross
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Two chapter-length biographies of George Boole and Claude Shannon, then the rest of the book is devoted to Boolean logic and algebra at a medium level of difficulty. Only for true fans.
Zoltan Varju
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Feb 12, 2013
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Paul J. Nahin is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire and the author of many best-selling popular math books, including The Logician and the Engineer and Will You Be Alive 10 Years from Now? (both Princeton).

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