A Mathematical Theory of Communication; Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems

“Probably no single work in this century has more profoundly altered man's understanding of communication than C E Shannon's article, ‘A mathematical theory of communication.’” -D. Slepian, Bell Labs

FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS OF BOTH PARTS of Shannon’s extremely influential theory of communication and essential to the development of the computer. WITH: Shannon’s important paper on cryptography. Virtually all electronic forms of communication today are indebted to Shannon’s work.

“In 1948, Dr. Shannon published his masterpiece, ‘A Mathematical Theory of Communication,’ giving birth to the science called information theory. The motivation again was practical: how to transmit messages while keeping them from becoming garbled by noise. To analyze this problem properly, he realized, he had to come up with a precise definition of information, a dauntingly slippery concept. The information content of a message, he proposed, has nothing to do with its content but simply with the number of 1's and 0's that it takes to transmit it. This was a jarring notion to a generation of engineers who were accustomed to thinking of communication in terms of sending electromagnetic waveforms down a wire. ‘Nobody had come close to this idea before,’ Dr. Gallager said. ‘This was not something somebody else would have done for a very long time. The overarching lesson was that the nature of the message did not matter — it could be numbers, words, music, video. Ultimately it was all just 1's and 0's.’ Today, when gigabytes of movie trailers, Napster files and e-mail messages course through the same wires as telephone calls, the idea seems almost elemental. But it has its roots in Dr. Shannon's paper, which may contain the first published occurrence of the word "'bit'." (New York Times, obit. 27 Feb, 2001).

"American mathematician Claude Shannon developed information theory by 1948. He reduced the notion of information to a series of yes/no choices, which could be presented by a binary code. Each choice, or piece of information, he called a 'bit.' In this way, complex information could be organized according to strict mathematical principles. His methods, although devised in the context of engineering and technology, were soon seen to have applications not only to computer design but to virtually every subject in which language was important, such as linguistics, psychology, cryptography, and phonetics; further applications were possible in any area where the transmission of information in any form was important" (Mount and List, Milestones, 65; Dictionary of Scientists, 436).

On “Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems:

“The seeds of Shannon’s information theory appeared first in a Bell Labs classified memorandum dated 1 September 1945, “A Mathematical Theory of Cryptography.” It was declassified and published in a revised form after World War II as “Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems,” in the Bell System Technical Journal...

“Cryptographic problems fit well with information theory. Shannon saw that the encoding of military messages into secret codes theoretically amounted to adding deceptive noise to the original messages. By using the appropriate equipment at the receiver end, the disguised message can be decoded by removing the noise (that is if one understood how the noise had been generated at the encoding end of the process). So the classified cryptography research that Claude Shannon conducted at Bell Labs was a specific application of his emerging information theory. Given that Shannon was developing his information theory at the same time that he worked on cryptography, it is not surprising that he utilized such terms as ‘encoding’ and ‘noise’ in his communication model” (Ruben, Between Communication and Information).

In The Bell System Technical Journal, Volume XXVII, No. 3 & 4, p.379-423 (part I, July 1948) & p.623-656 (part II, October 1948). WITH: Volume XXVIII, No, 4, (October 1949), pp. 656-715. New York: American Telephone and Telegraph Company, 1948-1949. Octavo, original wrappers; custom box. With contents/index sheets (separately stapled pamphlets, as issued) for Vol XXVII (1948) and Vol XXVIII (1949). Fading to wrappers, more severe at spines and edges; a few spots of mild soiling. "JBM" written neatly at top corner of both issues of “Mathematical Theory”. Text clean. RARE in original wrappers with no institutional stamps.

Price: \$8,000 .

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