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Elements of Information Theory 2nd Edition (Wiley Series in Telecommunications and Signal Processing) Hardcover – July 18, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0471241959 ISBN-10: 0471241954 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 776 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Interscience; 2 edition (July 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471241954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471241959
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"As expected, the quality of exposition continues to be a high point of the book. Clear explanations, nice graphical illustrations, and illuminating mathematical derivations make the book particularly useful as a textbook on information theory." (Journal of the American Statistical Association, March 2008)

"This book is recommended reading, both as a textbook and as a reference." (Computing, December 28, 2006)

From the Back Cover

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.

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Customer Reviews

Very good book with some minor issues.
Cover and Thomas' book "Elements of Information Theory" is written for the reader who is interested in these eclectic and exciting applications of Information Theory.
A Reader
I took the class after two years of probability and a year of analysis, and found the proofs very easy to follow.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 95 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on May 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am writing this review in response to some confusion and unfairness I see in other reviews. Cover and Thomas have written a unique and ambitious introduction to a fascinating and complex subject; their book must be judged fairly and not compared to other books that have entirely different goals.

Claude Shannon provided a working definition of "information" in his seminal 1948 paper, A Mathematical Theory of Communication. Shannon's interest in that and subsequent papers was the attainment of reliable communication in noisy channels. The definition of information that Shannon gave was perfectly fitted to this task; indeed, it is easily shown that in the context studied by Shannon, the only meaningful measure of information content that will apply to random variables with known distribution must be (up to a multiplicative constant) of the now-familiar form h(p) = log(1/p).

However, Shannon freely admitted that his definition of information was limited in scope and was never envisioned as being universal. Shannon deliberately avoided the "murkier" aspects of human communication in framing his definitions; problematic themes such as knowledge, semantics, motivations and intentions of the sender and/or receiver, etc., were avoided altogether.

For several decades, Information Theory continued to exist as a subset of the theory of reliable communication. Some classical and highly regarded texts on the subject are Gallager, Ash, Viterbi and Omura, and McEliece.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on March 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The preface of this book says, 'This is intended to be a simple and accessible book on information theory.' That's true, but it is aimed at the senior year or early graduate level where a theoretical background is needed for computer science, communications engineering, applied mathematics or similar fields. The mathematical nature of the book says that the student should at least have a background through calculus and a couple of upper level courses in statistics/probability. After all, Information Theory is generally considered to be a branch of applied mathematics.

On the whole, the writing style of the book (other than the equasions) is rather light and entertaining. For instance his discussion on the similarities between gambling and data compression brings a rather complex notion down something we can identify - that's before he gets into the math of course.

One complaint about the first edition of the book was that it didn't have enough problems for the student. This has been solved by the addition of a couple of hundred additional problems. There is also a dedicated web site for this book with more material, including solutions to selected problems.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Desperate Scholar on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Elements of Information Theory was the book I used in graduate school. It takes a topical approach to the subject from standard topics like source and channel coding, esoteric concepts like Kolmogorov complexity, to applied topics like how to get rich by applying Information theory to horse racing and the stock market. Overall I thought it was a good book. It is well written and exposes the grandure of subject. However what it provides in bredth it takes away in depth. Several topics, including fundemental ones like entropy, while well illustrated are not at all motivated - they are just given as definitions. In this I feel Galleghers book is superior. Also there is a real dearth of problems, its unusual to do all the problems in a book and feel you have not done enough to understand the material. Many a time I found myself scouring the web for more problems to augment the ones provided. So if you are looking for a broad view of the subject of information theory, this is the book to buy. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of the fundamental topics get Gallegher.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alexander C. Zorach on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I give this book five stars for its outstanding clarity, thoroughness, and choice of topics. The writing is excellent, and most topics are easy to understand, although I have a few isolated quibbles about how certain topics are presented.

I feel like the chapters on continuous channels are much tougher to understand and less intuitive than the chapters on discrete channels.

The exercises are very useful, but in my opinion, a bit too easy. There are lots of exercises at the end of each chapter, but there are very few that require deep thinking or creative insight. Most of the exercises are fairly routine. I think a few more involved ones would be welcome.

The one thing that is most lacking in this book are examples. The bulk of the text is made up in exposition of new ideas and proofs of theorems. While the exercises give lots of examples, I still feel that something is missing--especially in the chapters on continuous channels.

As a supplement, I would recommend "Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms" by MacKay. The two books are very different from each other and have less overlap than one might expect; I think everyone would do well to study both books. That book is much more suitable for self-study, has more concrete examples, and is in my opinion more fun and interesting (which says a lot, because this book is itself quite fun and interesting). It also has some more involved exercises. Also, it covers coding theory in more depth than this book (something that one might not realize from its name), and it integrates a Bayesian perspective into things more deeply.
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