About Claude

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Claude Shannon was born in 1916, in Petosky, Michigan.  His father was a business man and a judge, and his mother was the principal of the local high school, which Claude eventually attended.  As a kid, he liked to build model planes and boats.  Once he constructed a rudimentary telegraph system to communicate with a friend.

He graduated in 1936 from the University of Michigan with degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics, and that year began work as a graduate student and research assistant at MIT.  Here, Shannon worked on the Bush differential analyzer, a type of electro-mechanical calculator.  This work contributed to Shannon’s interest in electrical circuit design theory.  In his masters thesis, Shannon demonstrated how Boolean algebra could be applied to electrical circuit design.  This work is often considered to be one of the most important masters thesis ever written.  It has had an enormous impact on modern digital circuit design.  Shannon then switched his focus from electrical engineering to mathematics, and completed his dissertation on mathematical relationships for Mendelian genetics.  After completing his dissertation in 1940,  Shannon accepted a research fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where he began to lay the theoretical groundwork for what would later become information theory.

After completing his studies at MIT, Shannon moved to Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he remain for 15 years.  At Bell Labs, Shannon produced vital work in cryptography and laid the groundwork for digital communications theory in his paper, “A Mathematical Theory of Communications.”

In addition to his seminal work in circuit design, information theory, and cryptography, Shannon also completed work in machine learning (in his Theseus electromechanical mouse project), computer chess programs (in the paper, “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess,” and game theory (developed over repeated trips to Las Vegas with his wife and MIT mathematician Ed Thorp).

Shannon was also fond of juggling, unicycling, and chess.  He created several juggling automatons, and a machine whose only function was to shut itself off, called the “Ultimate Machine.”

This project seeks to explore the ways in which Claude Shannon’s presence and work are still affecting the work being done at MIT today.  Here you’ll be able to explore people thoughts about Claude Shannon and his work, and add your own thoughts and reflections.  Claude Shannon is here!

Tell us how you remember Claude.