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A Discipline Independent
Definition of Information1

Robert M. Losee
Manning Hall, Room 100,
U. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360

Published in
J. of the American Society for Information Science
48 (3) 1997, 254-269.

(pdf of full article)


Information may be defined as the characteristics of the output of a process, these being informative about the process and the input. This discipline independent definition may be applied to all domains, from physics to epistemology. Hierarchies of processes, linked together, provide a communication channel between each of the corresponding functions and layers in the hierarchies. Models of communication (Shannon), perception, observation, belief, and knowledge are suggested that are consistent with this conceptual framework of information as the value of the output of any process in a hierarchy of processes. Topics or definitions provided include information, value, function, argument, process, informative, reversibility, message, channel, inverse functions, representation, perception, belief, knowledge, information loss, perfect information, incomplete information, and misinformation.


Bob Losee