Problems of Information Transmission, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2001, pp. 87–90. Translated from Problemy Peredachi Informatsii, No. 2, 2001, pp. 3–7.
Original Russian Text Copyright
2001 by the Editorial Board.
Claude Elwood Shannon
“In our age, when human knowledge is getting more and more diﬀerentiated, Claude Shannon
is an exceptional example of a scientist who combines deep abstract mathematical thought with
a broad and at the same time very concrete understanding of vital problems of technology. He
can equally be considered as one of the greatest mathematicians and one of the greatest engineers
of the last few decades. . . The importance of Shannon’s work for pure mathematics had not been
suﬃciently appreciated at once,” wrote A.N. Kolmogorov in his foreword to the book “Papers
in Information Theory and Cybernetics” published in 1963 in the USSR. Due to the renown of
Kolmogorov himself, and to his contribution to the development of the abundance of ideas given
in Shannon’s works, nowhere in the mathematical world were Shannon’s works as popular in the
1950s as among Soviet mathematicians. A.N. Kolmogorov spoke at the General Meeting of the
Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1956 with the popularization of ideas of information theory:
“Every signiﬁcant discovery has elements of the unexpected. This is what makes a signiﬁcant
discovery diﬀerent from a gradual accumulation of results. Let me outline here the new in kind
and unexpected that is contained even in the elementary part of information theory.
1. According to the original approach, “information” is not a scalar quantity. There are very
diverse types of information. One could expect that there may be certain ways to measure the
“amount” of information but it was not clear if there was any particular most advantageous way.
Most importantly, it was completely unclear whether two qualitatively diﬀerent types of information
for which this or that quantitative measure is the same may be considered to be equivalent in the
sense of the diﬃculty of their transmission through communication channels or their storage. It
2001 MAIK “Nauka/Interperiodica”