
Bayesian information theory
April 9, 2021
Shannon’s information theory defines quantity of information (e.g. selfinformation $\lg p(x)$) in terms of probabilities. In the context of data compression, these probabilities are given a frequentist interpretation (Shannon makes this interpretation explicit in his 1948 paper). In Deconstructing Bayesian Inference, I introduced the idea of a subjective data distribution. If quantities of information are calculated using a subjective data distribution, what is their meaning? Below I will answer this question by building, from the groundup, a different notion of Bayesian inference. …

Shannon's Information Theory
June 9, 2020
Shannon’s theory of information is usually just called information theory, but is it deserving of that title? Does Shannon’s theory completely capture every possible meaning of the word information? In the grand quests to creating AI and understanding the rules of the universe (i.e. grand unified theory) information may be key. Intelligent agents search for information and manipulate it. Particle interactions in physics may be viewed as information transfer. The physics of information may be key to interpreting quantum mechanics and resolving the measurement problem. If you endeavor to answer these hard questions, it is prudent to understand existing socalled theories of information so you can evaluate whether they are powerful enough and to take inspiration from them. Shannon’s information theory is a hard nut to crack. Hopefully this primer gets you far enough along to be able to read a textbook like Elements of Information Theory. At the end I start to explore the question of whether Shannon’s theory is a complete theory of information, and where it might be lacking. This post is long. That is because Shannon’s information theory is a framework of thought. That framework has a vocabulary which is needed to appreciate the whole. I attempt to gradually build up this vocabulary, stopping along the way to build intuition. With this vocabulary in hand, you will be ready to explore the big questions at the end of this post. …