RESOURCES: Organizing Entropy

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  17 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5533, pp. 1227
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5533.1227d

Originally the bailiwick of thermodynamicists, entropy—a measure of the amount of disorder in a closed system—has spread to fields ranging from information theory to political science and has even infiltrated literature and the arts. Much of the impetus for this expansion came from the work of information theorist Claude Shannon, whose 1948 theory of communication laid the foundation for the Internet. Bringing a little local order to the scattered applications of entropy is a Web site maintained by Roland Gunesch, a mathematics grad student at Penn State. The site holds dozens of links to expository articles, research groups, and software on various related subjects—from measuring entropy in DNA sequences to using entropy to quantify voting habits. It's not all dry academic stuff. Try out the Shannonizer, a self-described “Web toy with delusions of literacy,” which will translate your choice of text into nonsense in the style of authors ranging from Hunter S. Thompson to God.

Navigate This Article