swandives writes "In 1950 Bell Labs researcher Richard W. Hamming made a discovery that would lay an important foundation for the modern computing and communications industries — coming up with a method for performing computing operations on a large scale without errors. Hamming wrote about how self-checking circuits help eliminate errors in telephone central offices. He speculated the 'special codes' he proposed — which became known as Hamming codes — would only need to be applied to systems requiring unattended operation for long periods or 'extremely large and tightly integrated' systems where a single failure would incapacitate the entire installation. Hamming code was the first discovery in an immense field called coding theory. This article looks back on the history of Hamming codes, their applications, and includes interviews with Todd Moon, Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Utah State University and David MacKay, Professor of natural philosophy in the department of Physics at the University of Cambridge and chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. An interesting read, about a little-known but fundamental element of information theory."
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