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Open AccessArticle

Structural and Symbolic Information in the Context of the General Theory of Information

by 1,* and 2,*
1
Department of Mathematics, University of California, 520 Portola Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
2
Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, D-18119 Warnemünde, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Information 2017, 8(4), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/info8040139
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 26 October 2017 / Accepted: 1 November 2017 / Published: 6 November 2017
The general theory of information, which includes syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and many other special theories of information, provides theoretical and practical tools for discerning a very large diversity of different kinds, types, and classes of information. Some of these kinds, types, and classes are more important and some are less important. Two basic classes are formed by structural and symbolic information. While structural information is intrinsically imbedded in the structure of the corresponding object or domain, symbolic information is represented by symbols, the meaning of which is subject to arbitrary conventions between people. As a result, symbolic information exists only in the context of life, including technical and theoretical constructs created by humans. Structural information is related to any objects, systems, and processes regardless of the existence or presence of life. In this paper, properties of structural and symbolic information are explored in the formal framework of the general theory of information developed by Burgin because this theory offers more powerful instruments for this inquiry. Structural information is further differentiated into inherent, descriptive, and constructive types. Properties of correctness and uniqueness of these types are investigated. In addition, predictive power of symbolic information accumulated in the course of natural evolution is considered. The phenomenon of ritualization is described as a general transition process from structural to symbolic information. View Full-Text
Keywords: general theory of information; structural information; symbolic information; correctness; uniqueness; information conservation; prophecy; evolution; ritualization general theory of information; structural information; symbolic information; correctness; uniqueness; information conservation; prophecy; evolution; ritualization
MDPI and ACS Style

Burgin, M.; Feistel, R. Structural and Symbolic Information in the Context of the General Theory of Information. Information 2017, 8, 139.

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