Theory of meaningful information, background, excerpts and meaning representation

We live in the age of applied sciences. Just consider the role of applied biology responsible for the unbelievable progress in medicine or applied physics and applied chemistry, forming the basis of modern industry and modern infrastructure in general. Our society is also hardly imaginable without the applications of social sciences like economics, sociology, social psychology, political science, criminology etc.

The only big exception to this rule is the area of information sciences concerned with meaningful information. While there are many theories and approaches dedicated to the subject, none of them was ever able to produce a really applicable theory of meaningful information.

Attempts of formalizing meaningful information can be found in semantics and knowledge representation. Lu and Losee tried to produce a feasible formalization and generalization of meaningful information based on Claude Shannon’s theory of communication. Mathematical approaches were common, e.g. the one based on probability theory proposed by Cooman et al. and the theory of information in the form of “a mathematical model of information flow” by Keith Devlin. A theory considering information to be a basic property of the universe much like matter and energy was developed by Tom Stonier. Other approaches, however, negated mathematical interpretations and described the world as consisting of entities and interactions, where information is a reflected relationship of both and has no mathematical core. Burgin tried to build a general information theory by systemizing features of information.

The failure of information science to produce an applicable information theory had hardly any consequences for the relevant practical activities, the first and the most important of which is high level programming. Each high level programming language is able to express the meaningful content restricted to the depicting of bit sequences allocated in the computer memory and the operations with these bit sequences. Another way of working with meaningful information consists of using the respective software applications (e.g., an application recognizing the meaning of some text).

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(Author: Boris Sunik. Published by Sciedu Press)