RE: [OPE] intermission: value of knowledge

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Mon Nov 30 2009 - 05:33:39 EST

This point that you are making is one of the big obstacles that students studying information have to surmount. It seems counter intuitive that a random sequence of digits should contain so much information.
However if you have ever unpacked a .zip file you will have put this to the test. A zip file is very close to being a random sequence of digits. Should you wish to encrypt a message for transmission over a channel that is listened to, you would be well advised to first compress it so that it looks like a random sequence of digits.

The great success of the Bletchley Park code breakers in the 1940s was their breaking into the Fish code, which attempted to randomise messages so that they looked like a random digit sequence. The breaking of the code came from the residual frequency distribution of the letters in German being detectable despite the addition of the random information from the code machine.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Paula
Sent: 29 November 2009 20:27
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: [OPE] intermission: value of knowledge

(continued from the previous message)

More details about all this are at

which informs us that 'According to MTC [the mathematical theory of
communication], the classic monkey randomly pressing typewriter keys is
indeed producing a lot of information'.

And, if he goes on long enough, more complexity than James Joyce.
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Received on Mon Nov 30 05:36:34 2009

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