The Meaning of Uncertainty
The Meaning of Uncertainty
Information, in a broader sense, is systematic, processed and structured information designed to make information more useful. It gives meaning to data and allows effective decision making in any circumstance. For instance, a single customer’s sale in a particular restaurant is data this becomes information when the company is able to identify which food is the most or least popular. The same data would become irrelevant if the customers had no use for that information.
In order to understand the relationship between information theory and information science, it is useful to have a good working knowledge of how information is used. Computers are useful for organizing, processing and storing large amounts of information. However, information technology has grown so quickly that it has also created a new field: information science. In this case, we speak of science of information rather than science of computers.
The relationship between information theory and pragmatics can be studied using two philosophical perspectives. One is linguistics, the other psychology. Each has an aspect of practical application; however, these aspects are not wholly independent. linguistics studies the nature and purposes of language, while psychology studies the means by which people choose to express themselves. Both disciplines are useful in the study of information technology.
linguistics studies how people categorize, infer and communicate. Semantics studies the conventions by which language satisfies the needs of its users. A semantic formalism consists of a set of rules specifying how different languages communicate with one another. Once a semantic formalism is understood, it is straightforward to deduce the various types of grammatical structures that grammarians use. This provides a rich background for the study of information and the design of new information systems.
The study of information and its distribution is intimately connected to the field of linguistics. However, unlike grammarians who only need to look at the grammatical structure of a language, linguists also have to make sense of the meaning of a word and the possibilities it involves. This is why, for example, they are interested in the idea of uncertainty. Uncertainty can make any event unpredictable, as much information can be lost in the process of making an uncertain decision as in the total sum of all the information that would have been available if the decision had been successful. This uncertainty may also make the search for an information source much more difficult than it otherwise would be.
To solve these problems, linguists turn to information theory and to information science – the study of communication. These two fields are closely related, but not completely identical. Language and the Semantic Web make up a subset of information science, and many philosophers believe that it is more important to focus on the distribution of data than on the content of that data. ( computational linguists, by contrast, are interested in the analysis of language as a tool for understanding the world.) However, this focus has sometimes been mistaken for pragmatics, the study of practical problems. The confusion is probably due to the fact that, although both fields are concerned with the distribution of information, the methods used by different philosophers and linguists to describe the process of communication differ profoundly.