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Dr. Laurance R. Doyle (Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute, USA)

The application of information theory and animal communications to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence - Dr. Laurance R. Doyle Colloquium

The Australia Telescope National Facility Colloquium
15:30-16:30 Wed 27 Nov 2002

ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre


All animals communicate, and their communication systems may be
quantified using information theory which was originally developed by
Claude Shannon in 1949 to calculate the amount of information being
transmitted through telephone lines. Information theory has been applied
extensively to human linguistics, and occasionally to several animal
communication systems. We have calculated the information content of the
whistle vocalizations of bottlenose dolphins and squirrel monkeys, for
example. A facet of the Shannon first-order entropy, known as "Zipf's
Law" can be applied to determine if a communication system - including a
ETI signaling system - has the potential for internal complexity. We
hope to eventually set up a hierarchy of animal communications
complexity (including human) so that if an ETI signal is received we
will be able to quantify the complexity of that communication system in
relation to terrestrial communication systems.

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