Information theory and complexity

In the previous section on the† properties of† complex system memory† I mentioned two:
1. Memory  is a doublet {state, trigger}.
2. An isolated system has no memory since its states cannot be read or modified. They do not meet  the doublet requirement.  An isolated system is simply a pile of bits (matter). It does not matter whether its entropy (information) is  high or low.  In its splendid isolation it will remain dumb for ever.

How does this relate to information theory with its tools †to measure the information capacity of any system? According to Claude Shannon† (1948)† all information has a "source rate" that can be measured in bits per second.† Information theory knows how to measure information capacity even of an isolated system yet does not specify its meaning. A dumb system may have a great capacity to store information. As long as it is isolated this information is meaningless.

The information of a message is inversely proportional to its entropy. The greater the information, the lower its randomness, and hence the smaller its entropy. Information †is a measure of the freedom of choice with which a message is selected from the set of all possible messages.

In complex systems memory is a doublet {state, trigger}. In an isolated system the trigger does not exist and its Information (or entropy) can be precisely determined.† Yet when the trigger is activated information changes. Therefore Information depends on the trigger. While information theory measures information in isolated channels, in a complex system information is a component of a doublet { Information, trigger}. Since complex system memory is embodied, information theory is of little use.


Hermeneutics is a theory for the interpretation of †messages.† During the Reformation hermeneutics came into being as a special discipline concerned with biblical interpretation and criticism. Yet what is meant by a proper understanding of a text? How can we find out what the intention of the author of the text was?† We canít! †Since† the text is a component† of a doublet {text, trigger} and the reader is its trigger, hermeneutics depends on us.

In the search for the attributes of complex systems I discovered Aristotle. A biologist impressed with† the complexity of nature, although the notion of complexity as we have it was unknown to him. In order to understand Nature we need four arguments, which he called Four Causes. Their relevance to complexity, and CA are explained in a different section..

Aristotleís concept of the soul is particularly interesting. Plants and animals have a soul which is an integral part of their structure and dies when they do. How may we understand it. The organism is a set of processes which interact and control each other. This overall control is perceived by us the as a soul of the system. I call it the Wisdom Of the† Body (WOB). It is closely related to embodiment.

This is my hermeneutics of Aristotleís great ideas. Does he turn now in his grave? Not necessarily. If accepting the notion that his work and me are a doublet of a complex system, he may rest in peace.

p.s. †By the way all this babble is phenomenology

Back to complexity index