An interesting interview with CLAUDE E. SHANNON Conducted by Robert Price on 28 July 1982 (http://ethw.org/Oral-History:Claude_E._Shannon
). Cannot make quotes because of copyrights. Shannon mentioned in this interview that problem-solving, rather than concern with the work of his contemporaries, drove his research process.
From the Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon
"1932, Shannon entered the University of Michigan, where he took a course that introduced him to the work of George Boole. He graduated in 1936 with two bachelor's degrees, one in electrical engineering and one in mathematics. He soon began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he worked on Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an early analog computer.
While studying the complicated ad hoc circuits of the differential analyzer, Shannon saw that Boole's concepts had great utility. A paper drawn from his 1937 master's degree thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits,was published in the 1938 issue of the Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. It also earned Shannon the Alfred Noble American Institute of American Engineers Award in 1939. Howard Gardner called Shannon's thesis "possibly the most important, and also the most famous, master's thesis of the century."
Victor Shestakov of the Moscow State University, had proposed a theory of systems of electrical switches based on Boolean logic earlier than Shannon in 1935, but the first publication of Shestakov's result was in 1941, after the publication of Shannon's thesis in the United States.
In this work, Shannon proved that his switching circuits could be used to simplify the arrangement of the electromechanicalrelays that were used then in telephone call routing switches. Next, he expanded this concept; proving that these circuits could solve all problems that Boolean algebra could solve. In the last chapter he diagrams several circuits, including a 4-bit full adder. This is the central circuit in all digital computers.
Using this property of electrical switches to implement logic is the fundamental concept that underlies all electronic digital computers. Shannon's work became the foundation of digital circuit design; as it became widely known in the electrical engineering community during and after World War II. The theoretical rigor of Shannon's work superseded the ad hoc methods that had prevailed previously.
Through the Carnegie Institution, Vannevar Bush suggested that Shannon, emboldened by his master's thesis success, should work on his dissertation at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in order to develop similar mathematical relationships for quantifying Mendelian genetics. This research resulted in Shannon's doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) thesis at MIT in 1940, called An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics.
In 1940, Shannon became a National Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In Princeton, Shannon had the opportunity to discuss his ideas with influential scientists and mathematicians such as Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann, and he also had occasional encounters with Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel. Shannon worked freely across disciplines, and this ability may have contributed to his later development of mathematical Information Theory."
Did he share the Nobel price with Victor Shestakov? https://www.google.com/doodles/claude-shannons-100th-birthday