Fascinating people, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence

Claude Shannon

Claude E. Shannon: Another Contemporary Giant and the Father of Information Theory Lost to Eternity


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum (IEEE) ran a Special Edition about Claude Shannon, which they called Tinkerer, Prankster, and Father of Information Theory in its April 1992 issue because he was so revered by the scientific community.

He was born in Petoskey, Michigan (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) to Claude Senior and Mabel Wolf Shannon. Both were smart and well educated.

At the age of 16 years, Shannon graduated from Gaylord High School. He had an inclination toward mechanical and electrical things. That year he entered the University of Michigan where he took a course that introduced him to the mathematics of George Boole. In 1936, at the age of 20,  he graduated from UMich with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and mathematics. That same year he began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at MIT.

At MIT, he worked on Vannevar Bush’s Differential Analyzer an early analog computer. During this period Shannon designed circuits based upon George Boole’s concepts. In 1937, he wrote his master’s thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. But Shannon didn’t stop there.

Vannevar Bush suggested that Shannon should work on his doctoral dissertation at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a private nonprofit institution located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in order to develop Mendelian genetics. This resulted in Shannon’s PhD thesis An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics. He received his PhD degree from MIT in 1940.

From his work and logic circuits, he simplified the relays that were used in call routing switches, and proved that his circuits could solve the same problems that Boolean algebra code solve.                                     

In 1940, he became a National Research Fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. This gave him the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with such people as Herman Weyl and John von Neumann. Occasionally he met with Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein.

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Artificial Intelligence has a Strong Foundation in World War Two Cryptanalysis

For more than a year I have posited that Artificial Intelligence has a strong foundation in World War II cryptanalysis. Yet, in my research I have not seen discussions of this. If I am right and can show that my posit is true it may be of little or no importance. But, it may answer not yet asked questions. There is a string that goes through three of the founders of Artificial Intelligence and a modern scientist: Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, John McCarthy, and Ron Rivest.

Alan Turing and Claude Shannon were both cryptographers and Ron Rivest is a cryptographer. Alan Turing and Claude Shannon worked together for two months during World War II. John McCarthy and Ron Rivest were both Turing award winners. Claude Shannon was at the 1956 Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference founded by John McCarthy.

Additionally, Alan Turing and John McCarthy are both considered fathers of Artificial Intelligence and Claude Shannon is considered the father of Information Theory. Ron Rivest is an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the highest title that can be awarded to a professor at MIT. He is also Co-inventor of the RSA (cryptosystem) algorithm; founder of Verisign, and RSA Security. These have to do with public keys.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was born in June 23, 1912 and Maida Vale, London, England to Julius Mathison Turing and Ethel Sara Turing. The greater part of Alan’s elementary education was done at Sherborne School which origins date back to the eighth century. His brilliance is continually acknowledged in elementary as well as undergraduate school at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first class honors in mathematics. It was there that he invented Turing machines.

Among the things that Alan Turing became famous for his work at Benchley Park and breaking the Enigma code. In September 1938, he began working part-time with the GC&CS British code breaking organization. During that same period of time, the Polish Cipher Bureau created a machine with Enigma routers and in a Warsaw meeting in July 1939 presented the British and French with the wiring of their machine. The weakness of the Polish method was it depended on an insecure procedure that the Germans were likely to and did change in May 1940. Continue reading