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Synchronizing to the Environment: Information Theoretic Constraints on Agent Learning


  • James P. Crutchfield
  • David P. Feldman


We show that the way in which the Shannon entropy of sequences produced by an information source converges to the source's entropy rate can be used to monitor how an intelligent agent builds and effectively uses a predictive model of its environment. We introduce natural measures of the environment's apparent memory and the amounts of information that must be (i) extracted from observations for an agent to synchronize to the environment and (ii) stored by an agent for optimal prediction. If structural properties are ignored, the missed regularities are converted to apparent randomness. Conversely, using representations that assume too much memory results in false predictability.

Suggested Citation

  • James P. Crutchfield & David P. Feldman, 2001. "Synchronizing to the Environment: Information Theoretic Constraints on Agent Learning," Working Papers 01-03-020, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:01-03-020

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