Center for Interdisziplinary Research

ZiF Research Group

General Theory of Information Transfer and Combinatorics


Convenors: Prof. Rudolf Ahlswede (Bielefeld)

The ZiF supports the Research Group General Theory of Information Transfer and Combinatorics from October 2001 - August 2004, with its central research year from October 2002 - August 2003. The main goal of the research project is a further development of the General Theory of Information Transfer both along theoretical and experimental lines. The research group is organized by Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Rudolf Ahlswede from the Department of Mathematics of the University of Bielefeld.

Every Tuesday and Thursday the fellows meet for The seminar of the Research Group where presentations are given and, subsequently, discussions are initiated. On Wednesdays, discussions in smaller groups take place. The selection of themes for the talks depends on the fellows currently present and their special interests but center around certain main directions of the project.
In October, the group started with a main focus on Data Compression. A new development that came up was the introduction of a functional that plays the role of the entropy in classical data compression in the theory of identification for sources. At the end of October, a mini workshop was held on Flows in Networks. Properties of information flows in networks were studied. They have very distinct features compared to ordinary flows of physical commodities. In January, the emphasis was placed on Pseudo-Random Number Generation, which is extremely important in cryptography. The number-theoretic approach to this task turned out to be very fruitful. In February, Quantum Information Theory and here especially the phenomena connected with entanglement played a major role in the work of the Research Group. Furthermore, work on Pattern Discovery was initiated. Other themes that were covered included Gambling and Investment, Prediction, Search with Lies and Delay, Feedback Problems Language Evolution, Fix-Free Codes and various topics from Combinatorics (Splitting Property, Counting of Hypergraphs, Shifting Techniques).
In the last quarter of the reserach year, a main focus of the group's activities will be on the subject of animal communication. There will be an intense interaction between biologists working on animal communication and mathematicians working in information theory. The challenge is to find out whether the mathematical models of the general theory of information transfer, like identification, are realised by nature and where the problems from biology require the development of new models
In parallel there will be a group of researchers interested in technical applications (for instance alarm systems) of the models from the general theory of information transfer. Therefore a very interesting interdisciplinary interaction between engineers and biologists is to be expected.
Furthermore the research group will have guests working on extensions of the models of information transfer to quantum information theory and there will be a smaller group of persons studying philosophical questions about concepts of information as well.

Requests on the Research Group General Theory of Information Transfer and Combinatorics are answered by the scientific assistant Dr. Lars Bäumer, Tel. +49 521 106-2787, Email

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