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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on October 25, 2000
Thomas Cover is a well-known researcher for both his excellent and sometimes surprising work in information theory, and his reputation as a teacher. The result here is a very well-written and gentle "overview" of information theory that is designed as a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
One thing to note about this book is that it is by design both an introduction and a survey of information theory, as the title suggests. It starts off with the basic concepts of information theory such as entropy and mutual information, and continues on with brief and gentle reviews of different more intermediate topics such as entropy rates in random processes, introduction to coding, and finally with the channel coding theorem, rate-distortion theorem, network information theory, and other more advanced topics.
While I find that his treatment of the intermediate and advanced topics to be excellent, there are a few weak aspects on this book's treatment of the introductory topics here and there. However, with just a little persistence the reader will be well rewarded by Cover's excellent writing. At each topic, the reader is presented with reason, motivation, intuition and example before delving into the rigorous treatment of the subject. Therefore even the most casual reader will be rewarded with good insights into the different topics in information theory.
That all said, I highly recommend this book to anybody armed with elementary probability who is interested in the general area of communication, signal processing and information theory. Readers who are alergic to math are recommended to start with J.R. Pierce's "Introduction to Information Theory" and readers looking for a casual introduction to the fundamental concepts in information theory are recommended to find a copy of A. Renyi's hard to find "A Diary on Information Theory".
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on July 21, 2001
This book is a research-level books that guides you to the world of information theory. Many arguements in the book are closely related to those in the latest information theory papers. For instance, the line of thought of the proof of channel capacity theorem (achievability->error analysis->converse) are still used in many network information theory papers. Hence, not only can readers refer to other papers when learning the subject(esp network information theory), but also get a solid foundation if he wants to continue with information theory. Another point is the intuition employed throughout the book. Dr.Cover visualizes many abstract notions (e.g. typical set)in information theory with clear diagrams. The subject suddenly becomes more approachable, and more importantly, these techniques are very important in subsequent study of the subject. Finally, the broad coverage of the book (of coz, it has depth) provides reader with a sip of the creativity and eclectic nature of information theory. In sum, after reading the book, readers will have some idea of this exciting field! But of coz, this is only the beginning!
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on September 14, 2000
Thomas Cover is a legend in the fields of information theory, telecommunications, and complexity theory, and this book is a reflection of his expertise in these fields. Thus, I recommend anyone to read this book who is even remotely interested in these fields, for Cover will make you *very* interested after reading the book. I found the Chapter on Kolmogorov complexity to be very good, and it was the first time that I could claim I actually had a good intuitive grasp of the subject. I found the Chapters on AEP, Data Compression, and Entropy Rates also very informative. On the downside, I found the chapters on Rate Distortion and Channel Capacity (two very central topics in information theory) somewhat confusing, and have seen better presentations (see Steve Roman's "Coding and Information Theory").
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on January 7, 2002
If you want a single book on information theory, you must have this one. Tom Cover, as one of the major contributors to the development of information theory over the years, wrote a clear and understandable book on a somewhat involved topic. The notation is neat and clean, something difficult to find in IT books. Also, the practice exercices at the end of each chapter are all of them worth doing. In each one you discover something in the theory you did not paid due attention. The spirit of IT important quantities such as the entropy and mutual information is well explained through examples and Venn diagrams. Also, despite the fact that this is a technical book, reading it can be quite enjoyable.
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on July 22, 1999
Cover and Thomas have written an excellent book on information theory. This book is suitable for an introductory type course but the entire book probably cannot be covered at once. All of the explanations and proofs are very understandable, although the section on types can be a tad confusing at times! I would not recommend this book to someone with a casual interest in information theory, rather to someone who wants a more rigorous treatment of the underlying mathematics.
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on December 13, 1999
This is an excellent book on information theory. It covers the basics from entropy to the more complex aspects of rate-distortion theory in an elegant manner. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the concept of entropy and also to those who want a deeper understanding of the theory behind source and channel coding. A must buy for those involved in compression and wanting to get the theoritical background behind coding.
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on February 6, 2000
The book on Information Theory by Thomas and Cover is quite comprehensive in its treatment of the subject. The book also offers good examples of applications of Information Theory. Its chapter on Large Deviations , for example, offers a good idea of how to apply information theory to that field. One could use it for, say, switching theory. The treatment is delightfully mathematical, and yet even a beginner can understand it.
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on March 1, 2002
This book is very thorough in its content, and the information is laid out very nicely, and easy to find. However, from a non-information theorist perspective it is not a good introduction. It covers the theory very well, but is light on the practical application (which is what drew me to the subject). This book requires a solid foundation in probability.
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on January 10, 2000
I agree with all who gave five stars at the time of this writing. I like to mention that for those who seriously study this book (especially focusing on discrete processes), Ergodic theory of discrete sample paths by Shields is also of great value.
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on February 20, 1998
I feel this is a very well written and organized overview of the most important aspects of information theory for both science and communications technology. The chapter on the theory of types is worth the price of admission alone!
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