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Information processing theory

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Information processing theory is a n aspect of information theory.

Information processing is the change (processing) of information in any manner detectable by an observer. As such, it is a process which describes everything which happens (changes) in the universe, from the falling of a rock (a change in position) to the printing of a text file from a digital computer system. In the latter case, an information processor is changing the form of presentation of that text file. Information processing may more specifically be defined in terms by Claude E. Shannon as the conversion of latent information into manifest information [How to reference and link to summary or text]. Latent and manifest information is defined through the terms of equivocation (remaining uncertainty, what value the sender has actually chosen), dissipation (uncertainty of the sender what the receiver has actually received) and transformation (saved effort of questioning - equivocation minus dissipation) [How to reference and link to summary or text].

Practical Information Processing can be described as a cycle, where data (which may have no inherent meaning to the observer) is converted into information (which does have meaning to the observer). This conversion takes one of three forms:

  • Computation utilizes mathematics (specifically arithmetics) to create the information from data. Example: a cash register (either mechanical or digital) uses addition to convert the individual item prices (data) into the total amount owed to the store (information).
  • Transduction is the conversion of one type of energy into another type. Example: A mechanical speaker converts an electric signal (data) into sound waves (information).
  • Translation is the conversion of a string of symbols from one set into another. Example: a person fluent two languages could rewrite a document that is written in a language that the observer does not understand (data) into a language that the observer does understand (information). Note that translation is the only Information processing form that can not yet be performed purely by a machine. It requires an organic brain (some electronic computer programs can 'translate' but in reality they are using complex programs, which actually rely solely on computation to complete the process).

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