The Logician and the Engineer: |
Boolean algebra, also called Boolean logic, is at the heart of the electronic circuitry in everything we use--from our computers and cars, to our kitchen gadgets and home appliances. How did a system of mathematics established in the Victorian era become the basis for such incredible technological achievements a century later? In The Logician and the Engineer, best-selling popular math writer Paul Nahin combines engaging problems and a colorful historical narrative to tell the remarkable story of how two men in different eras--mathematician and philosopher George Boole (1815-1864) and electrical engineer and pioneering information theorist Claude Shannon (1916-2001)--advanced Boolean logic and became founding fathers of the electronic communications age. Presenting the dual biographies of Boole and Shannon, Nahin examines the history of Boole's innovative ideas, and considers how they led to Shannon's groundbreaking work on electrical relay circuits and information theory. Along the way, Nahin presents logic problems for readers to solve and talks about the contributions of such key players as Georg Cantor, Tibor Rado, and Marvin Minsky--as well as the crucial role of Alan Turing's "Turing machine"--in the development of mathematical logic and data transmission. Nahin takes readers from fundamental concepts to a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of how a modern digital machine such as the computer is constructed. Nahin also delves into the newest ideas in quantum mechanics and thermodynamics in order to explore computing's possible limitations in the twenty-first century and beyond. The Logician and the Engineer shows how a form of mathematical logic and the innovations of two men paved the way for the digital technology of the modern world. "Meshing logic problems with the stories of two extraordinary men--Victorian philosopher-mathematician George Boole and twentieth-century information theorist Claude Shannon--Paul Nahin fashions a tale of innovation and discovery. . . . Alongside a gripping account of how Shannon built on Boole's work, Nahin explores others key to the technological revolution, from Georg Cantor to Alan Turing."--Nature "Part biography, part history, and part a review of basic information theory, the book does an excellent job of fitting these interlocking elements together. Nahin's work is best suited to students and faculty in electrical engineering, mathematics, and information science. It is also recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of information technology."--William Baer, Library Journal "The reader is taken on a journey from the development of some abstract mathematical ideas through a nearly ubiquitous application of those ideas within the modern world with so many embedded digital computers. . . . I enjoyed the discussion of Claude Shannon. In the history of the computer and development of the internet and World Wide Web, his ideas and contributions are too often overlooked. He is one of my heroes and I believe that everyone that reads this book will come to the same conclusion."--Charles Ashbacher, MAA Reviews Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Paul J. Nahin:
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