The Transmission of Information : Parts [I] and II (Technical Reports 65 and 149). Robert M. Fano.
The Transmission of Information : Parts [I] and II (Technical Reports 65 and 149)
The Transmission of Information : Parts [I] and II (Technical Reports 65 and 149)
The Transmission of Information : Parts [I] and II (Technical Reports 65 and 149)
The Transmission of Information : Parts [I] and II (Technical Reports 65 and 149)

The Transmission of Information : Parts [I] and II (Technical Reports 65 and 149)

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1949-1950. First Edition. Part [I]: [1], 34 pages. Part II: [1], 29, [1-blank] pages. Both 8 1/2 x 11 inches, grey printed wrappers. Mimeographed typescript. Part [I] is Technical Report No 65, March 17, 1949. Part II is Technical Report No. 149, February 6, 1950. Both are lightly browned internally, soiled wrappers. Part [I] has previous owner name (Roy Sallen, June 15, 1949) inked at head of first page. Good. Wraps. [28052]


Robert M. Fano was an Italian-American computer scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Fano was known principally for his work on information theory. He developed Shannon–Fano coding in collaboration with Claude Shannon, and derived the Fano inequality. He also invented the Fano algorithm and postulated the Fano metric. In 1967, Fano received the Claude E. Shannon Award for his work in information theory. In 1977 he was recognized for his contribution to the teaching of electrical engineering with the IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Medal.

10 years after the work offered here, Fano published "Transmission Of Information A Statistical Theory Of Communication" (MIT Press 1961) which book was derived from lectures notes given at a new course taught for the first time in 1952. In it, he notes that the book reports on much of Claude Shannon's work and work inspired by him directly or indirectly. Fano met Shannon after they both independently developed algorithms which effectively did the same thing - but Fano was so impressed he "followed in [Shannon's] footprints ever since." The both independently developed similar algorithms in the same space. Fano references Shannon and Hartley (among others) as references in these papers.

"In the field of data compression, Shannon–Fano coding, named after Claude Shannon and Robert Fano, is a name given to two different but related techniques for constructing a prefix code based on a set of symbols and their probabilities (estimated or measured)."

"Around 1948, both Claude E. Shannon (1948) and Robert M. Fano (1949) independently proposed two different source coding algorithms for an efficient description of a discrete memoryless source. Unfortunately, in spite of being different, both schemes became known under the same name Shannon–Fano coding. There are several reasons for this mixup. For one thing, in the discussion of his coding scheme, Shannon mentions Fano’s scheme and calls it “substantially the same” (Shannon, [Mathematical Theory of Communication], 1948, p. 17). For another, both Shannon’s and Fano’s coding schemes are similar in the sense that they both are efficient, but suboptimal prefix-free coding schemes with a similar performance. Shannon–Fano codes are suboptimal in the sense that they do not always achieve the lowest possible expected codeword length, as Huffman coding does. However, Shannon–Fano codes have an expected codeword length within 1 bit of optimal. Fano's method usually produces encoding with shorter expected lengths than Shannon's method. However, Shannon's method is easier to analyse theoretically." (Stanislav Kraj i, Chin-Fu Liu, Ladislav Mikeš and Stefan M. Moser (2015), "Performance analysis of Fano coding", 2015 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT).)

Previous owner Roy Sallen was probably Roy P. Sallen, who worked at Sylvania for many years and founded several companies after that. Much more difficult to find than Fano's 1961 book given the limited laboratory release mechanisms at the time.

See Origins of Cyberspace #597 for additional information including Fano's work with Licklider and MIT's Project MAC (now the Laboratory for Computer Science).

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