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Rezo Bragin
Rezo Bragin

The Information A History, A Theory, A Flood

Starting with the development of symbolic written language (and the eventual perceived need for a dictionary), Gleick examines the history of intellectual insights central to information theory, detailing the key figures responsible such as Claude Shannon, Charles Babbage, Ada Byron, Samuel Morse, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and John Archibald Wheeler. The author also delves into how digital information is now being understood in relation to physics and genetics. Following the circulation of Claude Shannon's A Mathematical Theory of Communication and Norbert Wiener's Cybernetics many disciplines attempted to jump on the information theory bandwagon to varying success. Information theory concepts of data compression and error correction became especially important to the computer and electronics industries.

The Information A History, a Theory, a Flood

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Gleick finally discusses Wikipedia as an emerging internet-based Library of Babel, investigating the implications of its expansive user-generated content, including the ongoing struggle between inclusionists, deletionists, and vandals. Gleick uses the Jimmy Wales-created article for the Cape Town butchery restaurant Mzoli's as a case study of this struggle. The flood of information that humanity is now exposed to presents new challenges, Gleick says. He argues that because we retain more of our information now than at any previous point in human history, it takes much more effort to delete or remove unwanted information than to accumulate it. This is the ultimate entropy cost of generating additional information and the answer to slay Maxwell's Demon.

In addition to winning major awards for science writing and history, The Information received mostly positive reviews. In The New York Times, Janet Maslin said it is "so ambitious, illuminating and sexily theoretical that it will amount to aspirational reading for many of those who have the mettle to tackle it." Other admirers were Nicholas Carr for The Daily Beast[2] and physicist Freeman Dyson for The New York Review of Books.[3] Science fiction author Cory Doctorow in his BoingBoing review called Gleick "one of the great science writers of all time", "Not a biographer of scientists... but a biographer of the idea itself."[4] Tim Wu for Slate praised "a mind-bending explanation of theory" but wished Gleick had examined the economic importance of information more deeply.[5] Ian Pindar writing for The Guardian complained that The Information does not fully address the relationship between social control of information (censorship, propaganda) and access to political power.[6]

In this pop-science examination of the history of information theory, Gleick looks at the development of information theories and technologies, writing that "every new medium transforms the nature of human thought...history is the story of information becoming aware of itself." He successfully engages the reader in topics ranging from lexicography to cryptoanalysis. Cory Doctorow described the book as "vibrat[ing] with excitement."

While readers may be familiar with many of the scientists and thinkers profiled in The Information, it's unusual to see a popular book that unites the work of computer scientists, mathematicians, lexicographers, and geneticists under the broader umbrella of information theory. Gleick has a gift for connecting ideas and concepts and examining relationships between the work and ideas of scientists like Claude Shannon and Vannevar Bush or Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The book attempts to cover a huge swath of human history, from the invention of writing up to memes and our present internet-enabled information glut.

But what makes the book most compelling to us is that, unlike some of his more defeatist contemporaries, Gleick roots his core argument in a certain faith in humanity, in our moral and intellectual capacity for elevation, making the evolution and flood of information an occasion to celebrate new opportunities and expand our limits, rather than to despair and disengage.

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis tohelp you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:Plot SummaryChaptersCharactersObjects/PlacesThemesStyleQuotes This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz onThe Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick."The Information" is an examination of the history of information theory as well as an essay on how computers and the internet have changed the way in which people interact with and approach information. Information now floods our society, Gleick explains, requiring us to filter and search it to find what we want to know.

After a complete discussion of the history of information technology and theory, Gleick turns to the modern flood of information that has resulted. He looks at the rise of Wikipedia, a collaborative encyclopedia that exists only online and the ways in which modern people cope with the glut of available information. Everything is being saved somewhere. It would seem that there is so much information now that it is hopeless to find anything useful or true, but Gleick is optimistic that we will find new ways to search and filter and continue to learn and create.

Modeling of viscous instabilities and channeling requires models at centimeter or millimeter scale establishes a need for an upscaling scheme that could predict production with as few parameters possible. We develop such an analytical model of volumetric sweep that aims to decouple heterogeneity from the mobility ratios for tertiary miscible displacements. The developed analytical model is solved by applying method of characteristics. The application is to provide quick estimates of oil recovery of displacements, as well as to provide scale up information for larger simulations. The original Koval work also provides a means of estimating oil recovery for miscible floods but it works if a single front displacement is assumed. This could be a limitation for tertiary floods where an oil bank forms and displacement has two fronts (Figure 1). This work also accounts for the interactions between these two fronts as they move in the reservoir, unlike previous work (Mollaei, 2011). This work could further be extended to tertiary polymer and ASP floods where similar oil bank forms at pixel scale for prediction of oil recovery.


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