Dear Professor,

your rightful indignation will be even deeper when you consider that the
official important and valuable discussion among the most prominent and
recognised eminent functionaries of highly respected institutions has been
repeatedly disturbed by boring patterns of observations related to garden

Am 19.10.2017 09:52 schrieb "Xueshan Yan" <>:

Dear FIS Colleagues,

Since April 2017, the FIS forum has been silent for as long as 5 months.
September 15, Pedro has raised 10 Principles of Information Science with
his amazing insight. As we all know, since the December 1997, FIS forum has
run nearly 20 years, colleagues gathered here mainly focused on two
topics:1) The analysis of different information problems that they apply
the concept of information; 2) Definition of information; But this time,
Pedro opened a third FIS topic: Principle of Information Science.
Undoubtedly, it is the highest goal of FIS colleagues and all information
scientists in the world.

However, after the presentation of the 10 principles, the discussion has
not been developed in accordance with the expectations of all FIS
colleagues, including Pedro. After about 6 or so direct reviews about the
10 principles, the discussions quickly shifted to the topic of eternal
controversial on FIS: The definition of information. And then the
discussion start moving to Data, Meaning, Message, Reflection, Agent and so
on, it is a stunned. Are the 10 principles wrong? Why has the definition of
information been put on the table again? Looking back, at least one year
ago, at the FIS forum, Bateson's "Information is a difference that makes a
difference" still occupies the stage of information definition with an
overwhelming majority of leading roles. The 10 principles put forward by
Pedro are undoubtedly meaningful, but why do it secretly change the topic
into information definition again?.

*1. Pedro's 10 Principles of Information Science*

Referring to Pedro's view (Sept. 20), we can divide the 10 principle into
the following 3 groups: 1~3: The Universal Principle which is suitable for
all types of information; 4~5: The Local Principle which is only suitable
for the type of organic information; 6~10: The Local Principle which is
only suitable for the type of human information. From a macro point of
view, these 10 principles are related to Pedro's personal professional
research — Biological Information — of his lifelong field of study, and
information flow and knowledge recombination is his favorite topic in
recent years. As for human information, this is a subject that I am most
interested in and I am glad that he can put forward 4 principles from his

The first principle is the exact expression of Wiener's 1948 statement
(Wiener, 1948), and it is now well known among scientists all over the
world. The other 9 principles come from Pedro himself. Unfortunately, in
the discussions during these period, in addition to about 6 colleagues
commented on these principles directly, almost no else commented.
Obviously, there must be some problems. My view is that the problem lies
mainly in the universal nature of the principle. It consists of two
aspects: 1) Scope. Since it is called principle of information science, all
principles under it should generally be applied to all information types
and disciplines rather than to some kind of them. If they are expressed as
"X principles of Biological Informatics", or "X principles of Human
Informatics", they may be more precise; 2) Correctness. Verification for
each principle requires time, this can be observed in the future
discussion, we don't have to worry. I believe that these principles will
eventually inspire the vitality they deserve.

*2. Definition of Information*

Looking back over the past 20 years of FIS discussion, almost every other
time, someone must put forward the definition debate on information, and
then produced new definition. Whether your topic is to talk about any other
type of information, at the end, someone may intentionally or
unintentionally turn the topic to the definition of information. It reminds
me of some of my own research experiences. When I proposed that we should
pay attention to information science research in 1987 to a vice-president
of Peking University (A famous Linguist), he immediately questioned me: "Is
information science not the study of information definition?" Till November
2015, at the presidential meeting of Peking University, when I gave the
account on the establishment of China Chapter of IS4SI, the current
president just only asked me one question: what is your definition of
information now? Decades later, we can see that this problem has not
changed, and this is what we have to introspect. FIS forum, including
information scientists from other places, should not always discussed in
such a simple and unrestricted way to define the definition of information.
I recall Marcin said at our FIS 10 years ago: When somebody gives me
logically correct definition of some concept I cannot say "It is wrong" but
only that "I am not interested in this concept or that", "I do not believe
this definition can be applied to what we agreed is denotation of the
concept." The general concept of information requires for its foundations
an appropriate rich philosophical tradition with its developed conceptual
framework. "(Sep.2, 2005)." And in last month, Emanuel commented
ironically, "All FISers pretend to be Einstein" (Oct. 9).

My view is that it is not the best time to discuss the definition of
information now. It contains 3 factors: 1). When we do not understand the
meaning of information in some major applications, we will have not a
thorough understanding of information, so it is very difficult to grasp the
essence of the concept of all kinds of information for us; 2). The
connotation of information has been shrinking, but the denotation has been
expanding; 3). Physicists to study "It from Bit" or "It from Qubit" is on
the rise now, and its final interpretation of the concept may be completely
subvert our old information view. Looking at the grand conference for "It
from Qubit" which was hold in Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
of Canada in July 2016, and the similar study plus the relationship between
information and Dao in Massachusetts Institute of Technology by so many
excellent physicists, it still is profound for our FIS peers.

Many new information definitions that perennially have been given by FIS
colleagues, in fact, most of them have been presented many times before by
different researchers in detail in their works, such as Mark Burgin, 2010;
Robert Logan, 2014; Xueshan Yan, 2016 etc. If possible, I hope we don't
spend so much time doing these repetitive work without knowing enough about
the existing works. For example, a few days ago, Arturo said in his post:
"To talk about information is meaningless", "I will never use anymore in my
papers the useless term information." (Oct. 4). In fact, in 1973, Fairthorn
once proposed that: “We should completely exclude the term information from
the scientific lexicon and to abandon the term from the dictionary.” (Mark,

*3. Next Step’s Discussion*

In the FIS forum, no matter how many the comments about the principle are
given, how controversial about the definition is, they lack a scientific
base: verification analysis. Verification is the sole criterion for testing
truth. Where we play the verification analysis? in different professional
fields which they apply the information concept. Once the principles and
concept been put into the specific fields of application of information
concept, the conclusion will be very convincing. In the hottest years of
the FIS forum in 1997~2002 years, we have analyzed almost all of the
applications of information concept. If we want our FIS to continue to
attract more researchers to pay attention, we should continue to carry
forward the previous tradition, but should go deeper than it in the past.

Today, the general public and the scientific community have put forward
numerous types of information, such as physical information, chemical
information, biological information, social information, economic
information, ecological information, etc............. And many information
research disciplines have been produced at last. According to my
statistics, these disciplines have reached more than 210. Such as Chemical
Informatics, Decision Informatics, Financial Informatics, Algebraic
Informatics, etc........... However, if we verify the principles of
information science or definition of information according to these vast
fields, the task obviously is too onerous. But an effective way is: we
classify these disciplines first, only sum up them into several basic
disciplines to complete the relevant work. I think it is appropriate to
classify them according to the species hierarchy of nature. In this
respect, Stanley proposed a good suggestion, e.g. {physics {chemistry
{biology {sociology}}}} (Sept. 20). According to this idea, all the more
than 210 informational disciplines can be divided into 4 ~ 5 basic
information subjects, they are: Physical Informatics, Chemical Informatics,
Biological Informatics, Human Informatics (Social Informatics), as for the
Technological Informatics, is it a fundamental informatics? I think that
the Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s autopoiesis theory can give a
good answer. The technical information system does not produce information
itself, what is processed or transmitted only is human information (or
other types of information).

Undoubtedly, it is much harder to do this kind of research than it did
before. For example, if someone wants to put forward some universal
statements about information, he needs to have a comprehensive observation
at least 4~5 basic information disciplines. In the past, even if one person
know little application field about information, he/she can shut the door
to his room in patted his head and then give a definition of information,
or start pointing fingers toward other’s definition of information. If we
can sum up 4~5 basic information disciplines, so it can not only simple and
convincing to the verification of Pedro’s principles of information
science, at the same time, that anyone can easily give a definition of
information era may be gone forever.

Best regards,


Peking University, China

P.S. For the convenience of reading, I put all these discussions (except
for others, such as Francesco Rizzo's Spanish posts) into one file, and
interested friends can download it directly.

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