The Franklin Institute Logo
Case Files logo

Claude E. Shannon: Communications as a Statistical Process, 1955

Introduction: Claude Elwood Shannon

Dr. Claude Elwood Shannon used mathematics to unify communication theory. His pioneering work revolutionized the field of communication and information technology, and his lively personality and active imagination endeared him to his friends, family and fellow communication theorists.

Shannon reflected on the subject of information technology: "The growth of both communication and computing devices has been explosive in the last century. It was about a hundred years ago that the telephone and phonograph were invented, and these were followed by radio, motion pictures and television. We now have vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits, satellite communication and microwave cable. We have even talked to astronauts on the moon. Our life style has been totally changed by advances in communication."1

Who was Claude Shannon? How does mathematics relate to the field of communication?

These pages hold the answers to these questions and tell the fascinating story of one man's work.

The Franklin Institute recognized Shannon for his pioneering work in the field of communication with a Ballantine Medal in 1955. The medal and accompanying certificate presented to Shannon are pictured at right.