Information theory as a general language for functional systems

Collier, John
May 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 517 Issue 1, p124
Academic Journal
Function refers to a broad family of concepts of varying abstractness and range of application, from a many-one mathematical relation of great generality to, for example, highly specialized roles of designed elements in complex machines such as degaussing in a television set, or contributory processes to control mechanisms in complex metabolic pathways, such as the inhibitory function of the appropriate part of the lac-operon on the production of lactase through its action on the genome in the absence of lactose. We would like a language broad enough, neutral enough, but yet powerful enough to cover all such cases, and at the same time to give a framework form explanation both of the family resemblances and differences. General logic and mathematics are too abstract, but more importantly, too broad, whereas other discourses of function, such as the biological and teleological contexts, are too narrow. Information is especially suited since it is mathematically grounded, but also has a well-known physical interpretation through the Schrodinger/Brillouin Negentropy. Principle of Information, and an engineering or design interpretation through Shannon’s communication theory. My main focus will be on the functions of autonomous anticipatory systems, but I will try to demonstrate both the connections between this notion of function and the others, especially to dynamical systems with a physical interpretation on the one side and intentional systems on the other. The former are based in concepts like force, energy and work, while the latter involve notions like representation, control and purpose, traditionally, at least in Modern times, on opposite sides of the Cartesian divide. In principle, information can be reduced to energy, but it has the advantage of being more flexible, and easier to apply to higher level phenomena. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


Related Articles

  • Learning structural dependencies of words in the Zipfian Tail. Deoskar, Tejaswini; Mylonakis, Markos; Sima’an, Khalil // Journal of Logic & Computation;Apr2014, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p433 

    This article uses semi-supervised Expectation Maximization (EM) to learn lexico-syntactic dependencies, i.e. associations between words and the structures that occur with them. Due to Zipfian distributions in language, such dependencies are extremely sparse in labelled data, and unlabelled data...

  • Multi Modal Anticipation in Fuzzy Space. Asproth, Viveca; Holmberg, Stig C.; Håkansson, Anita // AIP Conference Proceedings;2006, Vol. 839 Issue 1, p442 

    We are all stakeholders in the geographical space, which makes up our common living and activity space. This means that a careful, creative, and anticipatory planning, design, and management of that space will be of paramount importance for our sustained life on earth. Here it is shown that the...

  • Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. CLUBB, SHAWN // West County Journal;12/26/2012, Vol. 48 Issue 52, pB1 

    The author presents the author's advice not to spend too much time worrying about tomorrow but be happy when it comes and do not to spend too much time in regretting the past but instead learning to enjoy the here and now.

  • Anticipation Yields Great Expectations. Leszak, John L. // Mekeel's & Stamps Magazine;01/26/2001, Vol. 188 Issue 4, p6 

    Presents an article on anticipation in philately.

  • Why Deals Fail. Spira, Robert M. // Traffic World;8/16/99, Vol. 259 Issue 7, p19 

    Focuses on the reason for the failure of deals. Role of information gap in the failure of deals; Change in needs or in service capabilities; Presentation of too much expectation on the deal.

  • What's Behind Door Number Three? Agees, Voltere // Interior Design;Dec2001, Vol. 72 Issue 15, p175 

    Focuses on the anticipation regarding the passing of the year 2001. Hope for the graciousness of the new year ahead; Tolerance for the routines of trade winter; Pessimism towards company parties during the Holiday season.

  • Engine tweaks set to boost F3 Cup entries.  // Motor Sport News: The Voice of British Motorsport;9/28/2011, p13 

    The article reports on the expectation of MotorSports Vision (MSV) Formula 3 (F3) Cup organizers on the changes of series' engine regulations in 2013.

  • Director's report. Kallemeyn, Larry // Stepfamilies;Fall98, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p7 

    Focuses on the creation of a proposed road map for what should be a successful plan of action. Need for a clear sense of direction and expectation.

  • The art of prompting retweets.  // Executive Leadership;Oct2012, Vol. 27 Issue 10, p8 

    The article offers tips on how to increase the odds that tweets will be shared by followers such as to stay under 100 characters, keeping it personal and conversational, and create anticipation.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics