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Entropy 2014, 16(1), 526-542; doi:10.3390/e16010526
Article

Complexity in Animal Communication: Estimating the Size of N-Gram Structures

Received: 20 November 2013 / Revised: 16 December 2013 / Accepted: 16 December 2013 / Published: 16 January 2014
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Abstract

In this paper, new techniques that allow conditional entropy to estimate the combinatorics of symbols are applied to animal communication studies to estimate the communication’s repertoire size. By using the conditional entropy estimates at multiple orders, the paper estimates the total repertoire sizes for animal communication across bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales and several species of birds for an N-gram length of one to three. In addition to discussing the impact of this method on studies of animal communication complexity, the reliability of these estimates is compared to other methods through simulation. While entropy does undercount the total repertoire size due to rare N-grams, it gives a more accurate picture of the most frequently used repertoire than just repertoire size alone.
Keywords: animal communication; information theory; dolphin; humpback whale; bird song; phonology animal communication; information theory; dolphin; humpback whale; bird song; phonology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Smith, R. Complexity in Animal Communication: Estimating the Size of N-Gram Structures. Entropy 2014, 16, 526-542.

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