Sunday, January 23, 2011

Information Compression, Music/Literature and the Brain

New research into music suggests that our brain's ability to compress a piece affects its universality. A work that is complex, but has high redundancy, will be most compressible while retaining high information content. In information theoretic terms, the message is most efficiently and accurately transmitted.

The article notes that rock/pop music compresses to about 60%, while Beethoven's 3rd symphony compresses to about 40%. Is it any coincidence that the golden mean ratio is )0.618:1, or about 60%? 60% ocpmpressibility is of course 40% redundancy; 40% conpressibility is 60% redundancy. The 60% appears on either end of these two examples' complexity. Is that a coincidence? If not, what does this say about how the brain works? What might it say about the level of redundancy in any message we are trying to communicate to another person?

Language is also compressible this way. Is it possible that literary works tend to be more compressible than non-literary works? Is there a difference between poetry and prose? Or different kinds of poetry?

Some potentially interesting avenues of research.

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