The 15 Best Information Theory Books

9 min read

Information theory is an exciting field of study, offering a deep understanding of how data can be transmitted and processed. This article looks at some of the best books on information theory, exploring topics such as symbols, signals, noise, history and algorithms in order to provide readers with a comprehensive overview of this fascinating subject.

  1. Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms

    Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms
    David J. C. MacKay
    Published in 2003

    In this groundbreaking textbook, Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms by David MacKay is a comprehensive guide to modern science and engineering. It covers topics such as communication systems, message-passing algorithms, Monte Carlo methods, variational approximations and more. The book makes use of illustrations for clarity along with worked examples and 400 exercises so readers can learn effectively on their own or in an undergraduate or graduate course. Interludes on crosswords, evolution and sex make the subject matter enjoyable while still remaining informative. This volume stands out from other textbooks due to its clear explanations that connect disparate fields like information theory, coding inference and statistical physics; making it ideal for practitioners across many different disciplines including computational biology finance engineering and machine learning. A must read for any student of electrical engineering or computer science!

  2. Information Theory: A Tutorial Introduction

    Information Theory: A Tutorial Introduction
    James V Stone
    Published in 2015

    Information Theory: A Tutorial Introduction is an ideal primer for those seeking to understand the essential principles of information theory and its various applications. Written in a casual style, this text provides examples that explain how information can be quantified with regards to discrete and continuous random variables. It features hands-on experience through online MatLab and Python computer programs as well as PowerPoint slides for teaching purposes. This book takes readers on a journey beginning with basic probability concepts before delving into more advanced topics such as thermodynamics, telecommunications, computational neuroscience and evolution. With anecdotes about historical figures such as Samuel Morse included, it offers an accessible approach which will help make even complex ideas understandable – perfect for novices looking to get their heads around Shannons fundamental insights!

  3. An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise

    An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise
    John R. Pierce
    Published in 1980

    J. R. Pierce’s “An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise,” offers a comprehensive yet accessible look at this burgeoning field of study for both technical experts and readers with only basic knowledge about the topic. The text begins by exploring the origins of information theory before delving into topics such as encoding, binary digits, entropy, language and meaning, efficient encoding, the noisy channel and more. Additionally, it examines how these concepts relate to physics, cybernetics psychology and art in order to provide an insightful synthesis of all aspects related to information theory. With its engaging writing style that introduces mathematical formulas where appropriate without compromising readability or comprehension level for non-experts – along with appendices on mathematical notation and glossary of terms – this book is sure to appeal to any reader interested in gaining a better understanding of communication technology today.

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

    The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood
    James Gleick
    Published in 2012

    The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood is an eye-opening exploration of the big ideas surrounding modern communication and information theory. In this expansive work, acclaimed science writer James Gleick takes readers on a stimulating journey through the history of language systems, from Africa’s talking drums to electronic code transmission. Along the way he introduces key innovators in the field such as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace while offering insight into how our relationship with knowledge has impacted human consciousness. This engaging narrative has won numerous awards including PEN/E O Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and been named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top 100 Books of 2011. It stands out for its sweeping scope which covers both mechanical aspects related to physics and meaning associated with uncertainty value; it also features captivating stories that bring these abstract concepts to life. The Information is recommended reading for anyone curious about how we live today in an age dominated by data deluges like news items, tweets and blogs..

  5. An Introduction to Information Theory

    An Introduction to Information Theory
    Fazlollah M. Reza
    Published in 1994

    An Introduction to Information Theory is an essential resource for any engineering or science student seeking a comprehensive understanding of modern probability theory, coding theory, and information measure. This book provides an introductory treatment of probability for readers unfamiliar with the statistical aspects of communications. It covers memoryless discrete themes, memoryless continuum, schemes with memory and recent developments in detail. With no formal prerequisites required other than undergraduate mathematics knowledge usually included in engineering or science programs, this book offers a range of reference tables as well as over 200 entries in its bibliography making it perfect for both beginners and experienced students alike. The author’s clear writing style makes An Introduction to Information Theory easy to navigate through whilst delivering crisp explanations on topics such as sets, sample space and random variables. In short – this volume is an ideal handbook-like guide providing thorough insight into the field of information theory!

  6. The Mathematical Theory of Communication

    The Mathematical Theory of Communication
    Claude E. Shannon, Warren Weaver
    Published in 1971

    The Mathematical Theory of Communication, written by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in 1948 is a revolutionary work that has had an immense impact on our world. It unifies physical science with semantics and pragmatics while providing definitions and theorems related to information and communication theory. Those interested will find this monograph rewarding as it provides clear explanations even for those without advanced education in computer science or electronics. Despite some heavy mathematical formalism, readers can also gain insight into what Entropy actually is within the context of information theory through this seminal work. Highly recommended for engineers, scientists, mathematicians, students – anyone who wants to learn about entropy from an authoritative source! A classic book which stands out due to its timelessness – making it essential reading material throughout generations.

  7. Elements of Information Theory 2nd Edition

    Elements of Information Theory 2nd Edition
    Thomas M. Cover, Joy A. Thomas
    Published in 2006

    This book, Elements of Information Theory 2nd Edition, is a comprehensive guide to the subject. It provides an instructive mix of mathematics, physics, statistics and information theory for readers to gain a solid understanding of underlying theory and applications. The authors have organized chapters in order to improve teaching capabilities; 200 new problems are also included alongside source coding material and portfolio theory updates. Reviews from both Computing Reviews and Journal of the American Statistical Association emphasize its clear explanations, graphical illustrations and illuminating mathematical derivations which make it ideal as a textbook on information theory. Furthermore, historical notes recap key points while telegraphic summaries at the end of each chapter assist learners further – making Elements Of Information Theory Second edition current and enhanced!

  8. Quantum Information Theory

    Quantum Information Theory
    Mark M. Wilde
    Published in 2017

    Mark Wildes’ book, ‘Quantum Information Theory’, is a comprehensive exploration of the topic for both graduate students and established professionals. The main topics covered include quantum mechanics; teleportation, superdense coding, and entanglement distribution protocols; Bell’s theorem; Tsirelson’s theorem; axiomatic approach to quantum channels; diamond norm definition interpretation and Choi–Kraus theorem proof. This revised second edition includes over 100 additional pages with new exercises and references plus updated discussion on dynamic capacity formula importance. With accessible linear algebra-level explanations as well as up-to-date research results coverage this volume fills an important gap in current literature. It will be welcomed by upcoming researchers of quantum information theory looking for an introduction text or experienced practitioners needing a refresher guide. An absolute must read!

  9. A Mind at Play

    A Mind at Play
    Jimmy Soni
    Published in 2018

    A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman is an in-depth look into the life of Claude Shannon, a pioneering polymath who transformed the way we think about information. Through exhaustive research and unique access to Shannon’s family and friends, this elegantly written biography reveals how his insights led to groundbreaking developments in communication theory that have become essential for our digital world today. With deep dives into topics such as Boolean arithmetic, cryptography, probability theory, informatics, robotics and more – plus anecdotes from those closest to him – readers will discover why he was often referred to as ‘the Da Vinci of Data’. A captivating exploration of one man’s genius mind, A Mind at Play is sure to be enjoyed by anyone interested in mathematics or technology history.

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

    The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn
    Richard W. Hamming, Bret Victor
    Published in 2020

    The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn is a groundbreaking treatise by renowned mathematician Richard Hamming. This book encourages readers to adopt the same style of thinking that leads to great ideas, using stories from some of history’s most influential scientists like Shannon’s information theory, Einstein’s relativity, Hopper’s high-level programming and Kaiser’s digital fillers. It includes an all-new foreword by Bret Victor along with more than 70 redrawn graphs and charts. In this edition, Hamming prepares aspiring scientists for greater distinction in their field while reflecting on his own successes as well as his failures – both offering valuable lessons which can be learned from. The Art of Doing Science & Engineering serves as a reminder that learning capacity is accessible to everyone; it’s a must read for anyone in any STEM field or looking to expand upon their knowledge base.

  11. The Dream Machine

    The Dream Machine
    M. Mitchell Waldrop
    Published in 2018

    The Dream Machine, by M. Mitchell Waldrop and published in the Stripe Press edition is a captivating book that provides an insight into the history of computing as we know it today. It tells the story of J.C.R Licklider, a relentless visionary who saw potential in how individuals could interact with computers and software at a time when they were still rudimentary machines used primarily for data processing purposes. Through comprehensive historical exposition and personal narrative combined within its pages, this masterpiece chronicles the man responsible for instigating work which led to both our understanding of what computers can do as well as development of the internet itself – quite literally shifting modern civilisation’s outlook on technology forevermore! Furthermore, readers are also treated to three original texts from Licklider himself: “Man-Computer Symbiosis” (1960), “Intergalactic Network” memo (1963) and his coauthored piece with Robert Taylor called “The Computer as a Communication Device”(1968). The Dream Machine deserves widespread recognition; Alan Kay calls it “the top book” about Xerox Park while others praise it for being thorough yet balanced – truly providing readers with an enriching overview on one individual’s influence over technological advancement throughout recent decades .

  12. An Introduction to Mathematical Cryptography

    An Introduction to Mathematical Cryptography
    Jeffrey Hoffstein, Jill Pipher, Joseph H. Silverman
    Published in 2014

    An Introduction to Mathematical Cryptography is an ideal primer for students of mathematics and computer science who are looking to explore the mathematical foundations of modern cryptography. This self-contained text delves into topics such as classical cryptographic constructions, primality testing, factorization algorithms, probability theory, information theory and collision algorithms. It also provides in-depth treatments on important cryptographic innovations like elliptic curves, lattices and pairing-based cryptography. The second edition has been revised with new material on digital signatures – including RSA Elgamal & DSA Signatures – along with expanded sections on additional topics such as digital cash & homomorphic encryption; it also contains numerous new exercises. With its clear writing style & well chosen examples/exercises this book offers a comprehensive approach to understanding public key cryptosystems & digital signature schemes.

  13. Feynman Lectures On Computation

    Feynman Lectures On Computation
    Richard P. Feynman
    Published in 2000

    Feynman Lectures On Computation is an excellent book by the renowned scientist, Richard P. Feymnan. It was written in 1984-1986 and consists of his famous course on computation delivered at the California Institute of Technology with occasional guest speakers like Marvin Minsky, Charles Bennett and John Hopfield. The timeless material within provides a clear overview of many topics from standard to more unique aspects such as reversible logic gates and quantum computers. This book allows readers to gain insight into logical functions, finite state automata & Turing machines, theory of coding plus links between theoretical computing & thermodynamics which pave the way for future development in quantum computers design. For those interested in computer programming or wanting to deepen their understanding it is an essential starting point – full of interesting concepts that can be applied practically yet also covers fundamental architecture conceptually enough to make one rethink their initial knowledge base. If you liked Feynman’s other work then this might not satisfy your expectations but if you are looking for clarity regarding modern technology’s basis then this should definitely quench your curiosity!

  14. Error Control Coding

    Error Control Coding
    Shu Lin, Daniel Costello
    Published in 2004

    Error Control Coding, written by Lin and Costello is the most comprehensive textbook on error control coding available. It has been completely revised to include all of the latest developments in this field over the past 20 years, including trellis and block coded modulation for bandwidth efficiency; practical soft-decision decoding algorithms for linear block codes; and turbo coding techniques. The authors provide a clear understanding of complex material with minimal mathematical background using examples and performance curves to illustrate concepts. Additionally, extensive sets of exercises at the end of each chapter make this book an ideal text choice for introductory courses in digital communications or information theory, as well as upper level undergraduate or graduate courses focused solely on coding theory. Error Control Coding offers readers reliable guidance through state-of-the art error control methods while its easy to read style makes it easily accessible even by those without prior knowledge in this subject matter

  15. Why Information Grows

    Why Information Grows
    César Hidalgo
    Published in 2017

    Cé Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows offers an insightful and creative exploration of the nature of economic growth, synthesizing scientific disciplines such as information theory, physics, sociology and economics. The book proposes a new idea that economies can be seen as distributed computers made up of networks of people – with potential for greater development through understanding how to increase their power. It explains physical order in terms of the growth of information in both nature and society, uncovering the mechanisms behind this process. By exploring why some places prosper while others don’t and why certain technology hubs thrive while others fail, it provides compelling answers on economic developments around the world. Written with accessibility in mind but full of thought-provoking ideas, Why Information Grows is essential reading for those interested in better comprehending our ever interconnected global economy.

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