Dear Krassiir,

The formulars you proposed in your summary is good. May I mention that the following formulas will be more precise:

Object Info = External info = Syntactic info = Data
Perceived info = Internal info = Syntactic info + Semantic info + Pragmatic info

In other words, data is also a kind of information - called syntactic information, the information without meaning and utility associated. And therefore we have a uniform concept of information.

So, the discussions we have last week is very much helpful!

Thank you!


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:Krassimir Markov <>
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时间:2017年10月08日 02时06分15秒
主题:[Fis] Data - Reflection - Information

Dear FIS Colleagues,

It is time for my second post this week.

Many thanks to Christophe Menant (for the profound question) and to all
colleagues (for the very nice and useful comments)!


Christophe Menant had written:
“However, I'm not sure that “meaning” is enough to separate information
from data. A basic flow of bits can be considered as meaningless data.
But the same flow can give a meaningful sentence once correctly
I would say that:
1) The meaning of a signal does not exist per se. It is agent dependent.
- A signal can be meaningful information created by an agent (human
voice, ant pheromone).
- A signal can be meaningless (thunderstorm noise).
- A meaning can be generated by an agent receiving the signal
(interpretation/meaning generation).
2) A given signal can generate different meanings when received by
different agents (a thunderstorm noise generates different meanings for
someone walking on the beach or for a person in a house).
3) The domain of efficiency of the meaning should be taken into account
(human beings, ant-hill).
Regarding your positioning of data, I'm not sure to understand your
"reflections without meaning".
Could you tell a bit more?“

Before answering, I need to make a little analysis of posts this week
connected to my question about data and information. For this goal, below
I shall remember shortly main ideas presented this week.


Stanley N Salthe:
“The simple answer to your question about data is to note the word's
derivation from Latin Datum, which can be compared with Factum.”

Y. X. Zhong:
“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 varies". No meaning and no utility at the
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.”

Karl Javorszky:
“Data is that what we see by using the eyes. Information is that what we
do not see by using the eyes, but we see by using the brain; because it is
the background to that what we see by using the eyes.
Data are the foreground, the text, which are put into a context by the
information, which is the background. In Wittgenstein terms: Sachverhalt
and Zusammenhang (which I translate – unofficially – as facts /data/ and
context /relationships/)”.

Dai Griffiths:
“I'm curious about your use of the word 'dualistic'. Dualism usually
suggests that there are two aspects to a single phenomenon. As I interpret
your post, you are saying that information and meaning are separate
concepts. Otherwise, we are led to inquire into the nature of the unity of
which they are both aspects, which gets us back where we started.
So I interpret 'dualistic' here to mean 'two concepts that are intertwined
in the emergence of events'. Is this parallel to, for example, atomic
structure and fluid dynamics (perhaps there are better examples)? If so,
does that imply a hierarchy (i.e. you can have information without
meaning, but not meaning without information)? This makes sense to me,
though it is not what I usually associate with the word 'dualistic'.”

Guy A Hoelzer:
“If you start by explicitly stating that you are using the semantic notion
of information at the start, I would agree whole heartedly with your post.
I claim that physical information is general, while semantic information
is merely a subset of physical information. Semantic information is
composed of kinds of physical contrasts to which symbolic meaning has been
attached. Meaningfulness cannot exist in the absence of physical
contrast, but physical information can exist independently of sensation,
perception, cognition, and contextual theory.”

Jose Javier Blanco Rivero:
“What is information at some stage of the process becomes data on other.”

Loet Leydesdorff:
"Data" is "given" or "revealed" by God.
The search for an intuitive definition of information has led to unclear
definitions. In a recent book, Hidalgo (2015, at p. 165), for example, has
defined “information” with reference “to the order embodied in codified
sequences, such as those found in music or DNA, while knowledge and
knowhow refer to the ability of a system to process information.” However,
codified knowledge can be abstract and—like music—does not have to be
“embodied” (e.g., Cowan, David, & Foray, 2000).
Beyond Hidalgo’s position, Floridi (2010, p. 21) proposed “a general
definition of information” according to which “the well-formed data are
meaningful” (italics of the author). Luhmann (1995, p. 67) posits that
“all information has meaning.” In his opinion, information should
therefore be considered as a selection mechanism. Kauffman et al. (2008,
at p. 28) added to the confusion by defining information as “natural
Against these attempts to bring information and meaning under a single
denominator--and to identify variation with selection--I argue for a
dualistic perspective (as did Prof. Zhong in a previous email).
Information and meaning should not be confounded. Meaning is generated
from redundancies (Bateson, 1972, p. 420; Weaver, 1949; see Leydesdorff et
al., 2017).

Lars-Göran Johansson:
“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 entity, is not necessary. We can proceed with scientific
research, using any information concept we think useful, without assuming
it refers to anything.”

Robert K. Logan:
“So now for my definition of information as can be found in the book:
• Data are the pure and simple facts without any particular structure or
organization, the basic atoms of information,
• Information is structured data, which adds meaning to the data and gives
it context and significance,
• Knowledge is the ability to use information strategically to achieve
one's objectives, and
• Wisdom is the capacity to choose objectives consistent with one's
values and within a larger social context.”

Stanley N Salthe:
“ {facts {data -->information {knowledge {understanding}}}} “

End of citations.

Once more, thank you for the nice reasoning!
I agree with all above!

What is missing?
Why we could not come to common understanding if practically we all talk
about the same phenomenon and share the same idea?

We all agree that there exist two dualistic forms of information (“what is
information at some stage of the process becomes data on other”):

- External information for the agent (Informational entity,
interpreter, human brain, etc.) called “object information” (“data,
information without meaning, what we see by using the eyes; physical
information; "given" or "revealed" by God; pure and simple facts
without any particular structure or organization, the basic atoms of

- Internal information for the agent (interpreter, human brain, etc.)
called “perceived information” (“syntactic information+semantic
information+pragmatic information; seen by using the brain; semantic
information; structured data, which adds meaning to the data and
gives it context and significance!”).

What we have is the equation:

“Internal information” = “external information reflected by the agent“ +
“subjective for the agent meaning (or semantic)”.

But, the internal information for one agent is external for all others and
has no meaning (semantic) for them until they reflect it anyway (via some
secondary reflections created in the environment by the first agent) and
add a new meaning.

This way we have seen that the meaning (semantic) is separated from the
external and internal information and exist only in a special case. I.e.
we have the same phenomenon in both cases plus some agent depended
reaction - adding the meaning (“semantic; structured data, which adds
meaning to the data and gives it context and significance”).

Finally, the problem with naming the pointed phenomenon has risen. I
prefer to call it a “reflection” because of way it is generated - by
reflection from the environment via all possible sensors of the agent.

Now, it is not good for me (Occam’s razor!) to use name “information” for
all the cases pointed above (External information and Internal
information). I prefer to use concept “information” only in the second
case - Internal information. For the first case (External information) I
prefer to use concept “Data”.

So, we come to what I had written:

Data = "">Information = Reflection + Meaning.


I plan to publish the text above (between stars) in the next issue of the
International Journal “Information Theories and Applications”. Because of
this, I kindly ask colleagues, who are cited in the text as well as all
other, to give me permission to cite them and to send to me a proper
citation of publication where the presented ideas are published. If the
ideas are not published please give me permission to cite your post in the

Please, take in account that I have no money to buy publications, so all
citations have to be in open access and corresponded links have to be
Not open access publications do not exist for me!

Friendly greetings

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