Best Information Theory Books

A thorough introduction to information theory, which strikes a good balance between intuitive and technical explanations.

1. The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn

Author: by Richard W. Hamming
432 pages

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A groundbreaking treatise by one of the great mathematicians of our time, who argues that highly effective thinking can be learned. What spurs on and inspires a great idea? Can we train ourselves to think in a way that will enable world-changing understandings and insights to emerge?

Richard Hamming said we can, and first inspired a generation of engineers, scientists, and researchers in 1986 with “You and Your Research”; an electrifying sermon on why some scientists do great work, why most don’t, why he did, and why you should, too.

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering is the full expression of what “You and Your Research” outlined. It’s a book about thinking; more specifically, a style of thinking by which great ideas are conceived. The book is filled with stories of great people performing mighty deeds-but they are not meant to simply be admired.

Instead, they are to be aspired to, learned from, and surpassed. Hamming consistently returns to Shannon’s information theory, Einstein’s relativity, Grace Hopper’s work on high-level programming, Kaiser’s work on digital fillers, and his own error-correcting codes. He also recounts a number of his spectacular failures as clear examples of what to avoid.

2. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

Author: by Shoshana Zuboff
704 pages

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The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior. In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism.

The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behavior modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth. Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector.

Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new “behavioral futures markets,” where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new “means of behavioral modification.” The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a “Big Other” operating in the interests of surveillance capital.

3. A Common-Sense Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms, Second Edition: Level Up Your Core Programming Skills

Author: by Jay Wengrow
Pragmatic Bookshelf
508 pages

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Algorithms and data structures are much more than abstract concepts. Mastering them enables you to write code that runs faster and more efficiently, which is particularly important for todays web and mobile apps. Take a practical approach to data structures and algorithms, with techniques and real-world scenarios that you can use in your daily production code, with examples in JavaScript, Python, and Ruby.

This new and revised second edition features new chapters on recursion, dynamic programming, and using Big O in your daily work. Use Big O notation to measure and articulate the efficiency of your code, and modify your algorithm to make it faster.

Find out how your choice of arrays, linked lists, and hash tables can dramatically affect the code you write. Use recursion to solve tricky problems and create algorithms that run exponentially faster than the alternatives. Dig into advanced data structures such as binary trees and graphs to help scale specialized applications such as social networks and mapping software.

4. Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers

Author: by Dave Gray
O'Reilly Media
290 pages

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Great things don’t happen in a vacuum. But creating an environment for creative thinking and innovation can be a daunting challenge. How can you make it happen at your company? The answer may surprise you: gamestorming. This book includes more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies.

The authors have identified tools and techniques from some of the world’s most innovative professionals, whose teams collaborate and make great things happen. This book is the result: a unique collection of games that encourage engagement and creativity while bringing more structure and clarity to the workplace.

Find out why – and how – with Gamestorming. Overcome conflict and increase engagement with team-oriented games Improve collaboration and communication in cross-disciplinary teams with visual-thinking techniques Improve understanding by role-playing customer and user experiences Generate better ideas and more of them, faster than ever before Shorten meetings and make them more productive Simulate and explore complex systems, interactions, and dynamics Identify a problem’s root cause, and find the paths that point toward a solution

5. The Ascent of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life's Unending Algorithm

Author: by Caleb Scharf
352 pages

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392 pages

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Behind every great revolution is a vision and behind perhaps the greatest revolution of our time, personal computing, is the vision of J.C.R.Licklider. He did not design the first personal computers or write the software that ran on them, nor was he involved in the legendary early companies that brought them to the forefront of our everyday experience.

He was instead a relentless visionary that saw the potential of the way individuals could interact with computers and software. At a time when computers were a short step removed from mechanical data processors, Licklider was writing treatises on “human-computer symbiosis”, “computers as communication devices”, and a now not-so-unfamiliar “Intergalactic Network.” His ideas became so influential, his passion so contagious, that Waldrop called him “computing’s Johnny Appleseed.

In a simultaneously compelling personal narrative and comprehensive historical exposition, Waldrop tells the story of the man who not only instigated the work that led to the internet, but also shifted our understanding of what computers were and could be.

8. The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World

Author: by Pedro Domingos
Basic Books
352 pages

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A thought-provoking and wide-ranging exploration of machine learning and the race to build computer intelligences as flexible as our ownIn the world’s top research labs and universities, the race is on to invent the ultimate learning algorithm: one capable of discovering any knowledge from data, and doing anything we want, before we even ask.

In The Master Algorithm, Pedro Domingos lifts the veil to give us a peek inside the learning machines that power Google, Amazon, and your smartphone. He assembles a blueprint for the future universal learner-the Master Algorithm-and discusses what it will mean for business, science, and society.

If data-ism is today’s philosophy, this book is its bible.

9. Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond

Author: by Louis Rosenfeld
O'Reilly Media
486 pages

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Information architecture (IA) is far more challengingand necessarythan ever. With the glut of information available today, anything your organization wants to share should be easy to find, navigate, and understand. But the experience you provide has to be familiar and coherent across multiple interaction channels, from the Web to smartphones, smartwatches, and beyond.

To guide you through this broad ecosystem, this popular guidenow in its fourth editionprovides essential concepts, methods, and techniques for digital design that have withstood the test of time. UX designers, product managers, developers, and anyone involved in digital design will learn how to create semantic structures that will help people engage with your message.

This book includes:An overview of IA and the problems it solves for creating effective digital products and servicesA deep dive into IA components, including organization, labeling, navigation, search, and metadataProcesses and methods that take you from research to strategy, design, and IA implementation

10. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

Author: by James Gleick
544 pages

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From the bestselling author of the acclaimed Chaos and Genius comes a thoughtful and provocative exploration of the big ideas of the modern era: Information, communication, and information theory. Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness.

A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs.

Along the way, Gleick profiles key innovators, including Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Samuel Morse, and Claude Shannon, and reveals how our understanding of information is transforming not only how we look at the world, but how we live. A New York Times Notable BookA Los Angeles Times and Cleveland Plain Dealer Best Book of the YearWinner of the PEN/E.O.

11. Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms

Author: by David J. C. MacKay
Cambridge University Press
640 pages

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Information theory and inference, often taught separately, are here united in one entertaining textbook. These topics lie at the heart of many exciting areas of contemporary science and engineering – communication, signal processing, data mining, machine learning, pattern recognition, computational neuroscience, bioinformatics, and cryptography.

This textbook introduces theory in tandem with applications. Information theory is taught alongside practical communication systems, such as arithmetic coding for data compression and sparse-graph codes for error-correction. A toolbox of inference techniques, including message-passing algorithms, Monte Carlo methods, and variational approximations, are developed alongside applications of these tools to clustering, convolutional codes, independent component analysis, and neural networks.

The final part of the book describes the state of the art in error-correcting codes, including low-density parity-check codes, turbo codes, and digital fountain codes – the twenty-first century standards for satellite communications, disk drives, and data broadcast. Richly illustrated, filled with worked examples and over 400 exercises, some with detailed solutions, David MacKay’s groundbreaking book is ideal for self-learning and for undergraduate or graduate courses.

12. A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age

Author: by Jimmy Soni
Simon & Schuster
384 pages

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Winner of the Neumann Prize for the History of Mathematics*Named a best book of the year by Bloomberg and Nature* *’Best of 2017′ by The Morning Sun* “We owe Claude Shannon a lot, and Soni & Goodman’s book takes a big first step in paying that debt.” San Francisco Review of Books “Soni and Goodman are at their best when they invoke the wonder an idea can instill.

They summon the right level of awe while stopping short of hyperbole.” Financial Times “Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman make a convincing case for their subtitle while reminding us that Shannon never made this claim himself.” The Wall Street Journal “Soni and Goodman have done their research…

A Mind at Play reveals the remarkable human behind some of the most important theoretical and practical contributions to the information age.” Nature “A Mind at Play shows us that you don’t need to be a genius to learn from a genius.

Claude Shannon’s inventive, vibrant life demonstrates how vital the act of play can be to making the most of work.” Inc. A charming account of one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished scientistsReaders will enjoy this portrait of a modern-day Da Vinci.

13. Elements of Information Theory 2nd Edition (Wiley Series in Telecommunications and Signal Processing)

Author: by Thomas M. Cover
792 pages

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The latest edition of this classic is updated with new problem sets and material The Second Edition of this fundamental textbook maintains the book’s tradition of clear, thought-provoking instruction. Readers are provided once again with an instructive mix of mathematics, physics, statistics, and information theory.

All the essential topics in information theory are covered in detail, including entropy, data compression, channel capacity, rate distortion, network information theory, and hypothesis testing. The authors provide readers with a solid understanding of the underlying theory and applications. Problem sets and a telegraphic summary at the end of each chapter further assist readers.

The historical notes that follow each chapter recap the main points. The Second Edition features: * Chapters reorganized to improve teaching * 200 new problems * New material on source coding, portfolio theory, and feedback capacity * Updated references Now current and enhanced, the Second Edition of Elements of Information Theory remains the ideal textbook for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in electrical engineering, statistics, and telecommunications.

14. Understanding Cryptography: A Textbook for Students and Practitioners

Author: by Christof Paar
390 pages

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Cryptography is now ubiquitous moving beyond the traditional environments, such as government communications and banking systems, we see cryptographic techniques realized in Web browsers, e-mail programs, cell phones, manufacturing systems, embedded software, smart buildings, cars, and even medical implants. Today’s designers need a comprehensive understanding of applied cryptography.

After an introduction to cryptography and data security, the authors explain the main techniques in modern cryptography, with chapters addressing stream ciphers, the Data Encryption Standard (DES) and 3DES, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), block ciphers, the RSA cryptosystem, public-key cryptosystems based on the discrete logarithm problem, elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC), digital signatures, hash functions, Message Authentication Codes (MACs), and methods for key establishment, including certificates and public-key infrastructure (PKI).

Throughout the book, the authors focus on communicating the essentials and keeping the mathematics to a minimum, and they move quickly from explaining the foundations to describing practical implementations, including recent topics such as lightweight ciphers for RFIDs and mobile devices, and current key-length recommendations.

15. Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information (history of information and data visualization and guide to today's innovative applications)

Author: by Manuel Lima
272 pages

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Manuel Lima’s smash hit Visual Complexity is now available in paperback. This groundbreaking 2011 book-the first to combine a thorough history of information visualization with a detailed look at today’s most innovative applications-clearly illustrates why making meaningful connections inside complex data networks has emerged as one of the biggest challenges in twenty-first-century design.

From diagramming networks of friends on Facebook to depicting interactions among proteins in a human cell, Visual Complexity presents one hundred of the most interesting examples of information visualization by the field’s leading practitioners.

16. Information Theory: A Tutorial Introduction

Author: by James V Stone
Sebtel Press
260 pages

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Originally developed by Claude Shannon in the 1940s, information theory laid the foundations for the digital revolution, and is now an essential tool in telecommunications, genetics, linguistics, brain sciences, and deep space communication. In this richly illustrated book, accessible examples are used to introduce information theory in terms of everyday games like 20 questions’ before more advanced topics are explored.

Online MatLab and Python computer programs provide hands-on experience of information theory in action, and PowerPoint slides give support for teaching. Written in an informal style, with a comprehensive glossary and tutorial appendices, this text is an ideal primer for novices who wish to learn the essential principles and applications of information theory.