Probability, cryptology and meaning in Claude Shannon 1916-2001’s works Report as inadecuate

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1 SPHERE - Sciences - Philosophie - Histoire

Abstract : Between 1943 and 1949, the engineer and mathematician Claude Shannon 1916-2001 developped a new theory, foundedon the measure of « information quantity ». Clearly, this quantifying design of information was supported by the theory ofprobability. But it was also fostered by cryptology, which Shannon also worked to innovate in the same period, for the needs of World War II and of its consequences. The first interest of my talk is to make explicit the relationship between informtion theory and cryptology in Shannon’s inventive approach.The reception of this Shannon’s work was often accompanied by a specific claim, that is, by introducing prabability theory in this domain, whereby Shannon effectuated a radical break between « information » and « meaning ». Nevertheless, Shannon’s texts insisted very systématically on the meaning of his work for the engineer. They rather introduced the idea that meaning depends on the observer’s point of view, specifically, that of the engineer who manages the whole communication system. In that way, they ar linked with the 20th century theories of language, especially the pragmatic realm. I inted to examine the epistemological involvements of the reception modalities of this information theory.

Keywords : Shannon probability information cryptology entropy meaning

Author: Marie-José Durand-Richard -



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