Celebrating information theory at Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival

NarayananChamberlandFor the second year in a row, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University hosted a special seminar honoring Dr. Claude Shannon’s contribution to information theory at Texas A&M’s Physics and Engineering Festival.

Dr. Krishna Narayanan, the Eric D. Rubin ’06 Professor, and Dr. Jean-Francois Chamberland, associate department head and an associate professor in the department, led the seminar titled, “A Few Bits of Information Theory.”

The speakers introduced information theory and its main principles that have led to the digitalization of our world. They engaged audiences from ages 5 to 80 through hands-on activities, such as magic tricks based on the Hamming Code and the balance puzzle. They demonstrated how information theory shaped the development of CD players, iPods, hard disks, flash memories, deep-space communications, cellular phones and wireless networks.

Considered the father of the digital age, Shannon was one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. In his landmark paper published in 1948, he developed an elegant concept called information theory, which introduced the modern perception of information and provided guidelines on how to efficiently acquire, compress, store and transmit information.

“Just as how Newton’s and Einstein’s theories shaped our understanding of the physical world, Shannon’s information theory has shaped our understanding of the digital world,” said Narayanan.

A grant of $1,000 from The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Information Theory Society led to the establishment of the special seminar. Last year, Narayanan, along with Dr. Tie Liu, an associate professor in the department, presented information theory at the 2016 Physics and Engineering Festival marking Shannon’s 100th birthday.

Visit shannon.tamu.edu to learn more about seminar.