Top positive review
Great intermediate to advanced entry into information theory
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".