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# A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age

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**The life and times of one of the foremost intellects of the twentieth century: Claude Shannon—the neglected architect of the Information Age, whose insights stand behind every computer built, email sent, video streamed, and webpage loaded.**

Claude Shannon was a groundbreaking polymath, a brilliant tinkerer, and a digital pioneer. He constructed a fleet of customized unicycle ...more

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Hardcover, 384 pages

Published
July 18th 2017
by Simon & Schuster

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Just like that 1919 eclipse proved Einstein’s equations were right, our entire modern digital world proves that Shannon’s equations were right.

He also laid the foundation for digital electronics by applying Boolean algebra to circuits with switches and relays in what must be the most widely cited masters thesis ever. I’ll bet it’s still ...more

This bio instead focuses in Shannon-the-mad-genius, slighting the genius. ...more

It was a major disappointment. For a book about a man like Shannon, you need to get two things right -- or at least one of them. It has to be a good biography, and it shoul ...more

*A Mind at Play*is a great ...more

A Mind at Play is a very interesting book for many reasons. The subtitle “How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age” is one reason. It is a great biography of a mathematician whose life and production are not that well-known. And what is Information? I invite you to read these 281 pages or if you are too lazy or busy, at least the Shannon page on Wikipedia.

What I prefer to focus on here is the ever going tension between mathematics and engineering ...more

...more

**Unassuming genius from Midwest invents Information Theory and changes course of History**

Engaging biographical account of a humble yet singularly influential scientist who changed the world with his mathematical theory of information which sparked a worldwide revolution of digital communication technologies. Starting with his rural origins, and tracing his evolution as a university student and later working scientist at Bell Labs, we get to become acquainted with anecdotes and writings which revea ...more

The author needs to learn how to write biographies. Only 50% of the content is actually ABOUT Shannon (and half of that 50% are fluff exclaiming what a genius he is and the amount prestige he gained). If there are not enough content to write on a secluded private person, DON'T WRITE SO MUCH.

For a better read, I recommend the The Idea Factory, which has stories on many top Bell Labs scientists and includes a good amount of Shannon. It's what prompted me to look for more Shannon material ...more

Aug 04, 2017
William Moses Jr.
rated it
really liked it

Shelves:
biography-memoir-autobiography,
math

Claude Shannon may be a name known only to some, but his influence is felt by most. Anytime you use a computer or device that communicates with another device, information flows between them in the form of bits and bytes. Claude Shannon contributed an understanding of how to quantify the information being sent (what exactly is information) and developed some pretty useful insights into how to efficiently transfer information between two devices. Essentially, he is the father of information theor
...more

Aug 06, 2017
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

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Shannon played hard juggling ideas with rigorous mathematics. He approached the games with ingenious intuition and fierce courage building up very simple models which were incrementally developed further. Of course he also did pathbreaking synthesis connecting boolean logic to electronic circuits. As a result, now you can read review of books using computers and digital links. It is always delightful see genius at play and Shannon did it to the hilt.

A multitude of takeaways from this book, ranging from admiration to hero worship; introducing early impeccable trends in research, not caring for laurels and publicity from people, and dedicating a life to doing what you love the best. I probably first encountered Shannon during sampling theory, and later into channel capacity and coding theory, but I really, really wish this book had ...more

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“In these days, when there is a tendency to specialize so closely, it is well for us to be reminded that the possibilities of being at once broad and deep did not pass with Leonardo da Vinci or even Benjamin Franklin.”
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“In one sense, the world seen through such eyes looks starkly unequal. “A very small percentage of the population produces the greatest proportion of the important ideas,” Shannon began, gesturing toward a rough graph of the distribution of intelligence. “There are some people if you shoot one idea into the brain, you will get a half an idea out. There are other people who are beyond this point at which they produce two ideas for each idea sent in. Those are the people beyond the knee of the curve.” He was not, he quickly added, claiming membership for himself in the mental aristocracy—he was talking about history’s limited supply of Newtons and Einsteins.”
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