Dear friends,

The debate on the definition of information is of significance because the definition of information is the real foundation of information science. It is noticed that many contravercies in information science either in the past or at present time are more or less related to the different understandings of the concept of information.

It is not difficult to accept that there are two concepts of information, related and also different to each other. The first one is the information presented by the objects existed in environment before the subject's perceiving and the second one is the information perceived and understood by the subject. The first one can be termed the object information and the second one the perceived information. The latter is perceived by the subject from the former.

The object information is just the object's "state of the object and the pattern with which the state varyies". No meaning and no utility at the stage.

The perceived information is the information, perceive by the subject from the object information. So, it should have the form component of the object (syntactic information), the meaning component of the object (semantic information), and the utility component of the object with respect to the subject's goal (pragmatic information). Only at this stage, the "meaning" comes out.

What is new, we discovered that the meaning (semantic information) is the 'function' of the union of the syntactic information and the pragmatic information. This can be understood as the definition of the meaning/semantic information and the relation among them. In othr words, "meaning (semantic information)" cannot be understood arbitrarily.

Comments are welcome.


Prof. Y. X. Zhong (钟义信)

Center for Intelligence Science Research

University of Posts & Telecommunications

Beijing 100876, China

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发信人:Lars-Göran Johansson<>
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时间:2017年10月05日 16时45分39秒
主题:Re: [Fis] Fwd: Re[2]: Heretic

Dear all
It seems to me that the heat in the debate about the definition of the concept of Information is fuelled by deep metaphysical feelings: different people have different views about what is REALLY Information. Metaphysical debates can never be resolved. May I suggest that we agree on this: there are several different concepts, such as Shannon Information, Semantic Information, etc.. Each Information concept has its own distinct definition and each one may use whichever he/she finds useful.

Whether any of these concepts refers to any real thing, INFORMATION, cannot be determined by any empirical research. The reason is that empirical research can sometimes decide the truth of a sentence, but never whether the predicate in that sentence refers to anything.
Suppose we have found, empirically, that a sentence of the form ’ X is information’ where ’information’ has a clear definition. (Chose anyone you like.) The truth of this sentence entails that the object referred to by ’X’ must exist; this is a truth condition for any declarative sentence. But it does not follow that the predicate ’Information' refers to something. It suffice that the object X belongs to the extension of the predicate. This is the nominalist position.
Since 1000 years the core debate in metaphysics has been whether there are universals, i.e., properties and relations. The debate aboutInformation is a debate about the existence of a property.
I am an empiricist and nominalist, accepting Occam’s razor: one should not assume more entities than necessary. And assuming that Information is a property, an entithy, is not necessary. We can proceed with scientific research, using any information concept we think useful, without assuming it refers to anything. Metaphysical issues can safely be put to rest.

Lars-Göran Johansson

4 okt. 2017 kl. 19:49 skrev

-------- Messaggio inoltrato -------- Da:tozziart...@libero.itA: Alex Hankeyalexhan...@gmail.comData: mercoledì, 04 ottobre 2017, 07:37PM +02:00 Oggetto: Re[2]: [Fis] Heretic

Dear Prof. Hankey,
I come from a free country, where everybody can say his own opinion, in particular if his opinion is not totally stupid.
The times of Giordano Bruno and Inquisition are gone.

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mercoledì, 04 ottobre 2017, 06:20PM +02:00 da Alex

Dear Professor Tozzi,

Might I suggest that you graciously retire from the list,
as you evidently do not wish to participate in what
the rest of us find fascinating topics of discussion.

As a physicist, I have no difficulty in relating to the concept of 'information',
and I am aware of no less than five conceptually totally different
mathematical structures, all of which merit the name, 'information'.

With all good wishes,

Alex Hankey

On 4 October 2017 at 02:30,<>wrote:

Dear FISers,
After the provided long list of completely different definitions of the term "information", one conclusion is clear: there is not a scientific, unique definition of information.

Nobody of us is able to provide an operative framework and a single (just one!) empirical testable prevision able to assess "information".
For example, what does "semantics" and "meaning" mean, in empirical terms?
Therefore, to talk about information is meaningless, in the carnapian sense.

Judging from your answers, the most of you are foremost scientists. Therefore, my proposal is to forget about information, and to use your otherwise very valuable skills and efforts in other fields.
It is a waste of your precious time to focus yourself in something that is so vague. It is, retrospectively, a mistake to state that the world is information, if nobody knows what does it mean.

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Alex Hankey M.A. (Cantab.) PhD(M.I.T.)
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