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(Math) Whales' Songs (Information Theory)

 
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adedios
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:08 am    Post subject: (Math) Whales' Songs (Information Theory) Reply with quote






Howard Hughes Medical Institute
21 March 2006

Warbling whales speak a language all their own

The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours.
Until now, only humans have demonstrated the ability to use such a hierarchical structure of communication. The research, published online in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, offers a new approach to studying animal communication, although the authors do not claim that humpback whale songs meet the linguistic rigor necessary for a true language.

"Humpback songs are not like human language, but elements of language are seen in their songs," said Ryuji Suzuki, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) predoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and first author of the paper.

With limited sight and sense of smell in water, marine mammals are more dependent on sound--which travels four times faster in water than air--to communicate. For six months each year, all male humpback whales in a population sing the same song during mating season. Thought to attract females, the song evolves over time.

Suzuki and co-authors John Buck and Peter Tyack applied the tools of information theory--a mathematical study of data encoding and transmission--to analyze the complex patterns of moans, cries, and chirps in the whales' songs for clues to the information being conveyed. Buck is an electrical engineer who specializes in signal processing and underwater acoustics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Tyack is a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Suzuki, who began the project as an electrical engineering undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, worked with Buck and Tyack to develop a computer program to break down the elements of the whale's song and assign an abstract symbol to each of those elements. Suzuki wanted to see if he could design a computer program that enabled scientists to classify the structure of the whales' songs.

He used the program to analyze structural characteristics of the humpback songs recorded in Hawaii. To measure a song's complexity, Suzuki analyzed the average amount of information conveyed per symbol. He then asked human observers who had no previous knowledge of the structure of the whale songs to classify them in terms of complexity, redundancy, and predictability. The computer-generated model and the human observers agreed that the songs are hierarchical, confirming a theory first proposed by biologists Roger Payne and Scott McVay in 1971.

Suzuki said that information theory also enabled the researchers to determine how much information can be conveyed in a whale song. Despite the "human-like" use of hierarchical syntax to communicate, Suzuki and his colleagues found that whale songs convey less than one bit of information per second. By comparison, humans speaking English generate 10 bits of information for each word spoken. "Although whale song is nothing like human language, I wouldn't be surprised if some marine mammals have the ability to communicate in a complex way," said Suzuki. "Given that the underwater environment is very different from our world, it is not surprising that they would communicate in rather a different way from land mammals."

The structure of the humpback whale song is repetitive and rigid. The whales repeat unique phrases made up of short and long segments to craft a song. There are multiple layers, or scales, of repetition, denoted as periodicities. One scale is made up of six units, while a longer one consists of 180-400 units. The combined periodicities give the song its hierarchical structure.

Suzuki compared his new technique for animal communication research with more traditional models, such as the first order Markov model that is used to analyze bird songs, which are often shorter and simpler in structure than humpback whale songs. The Markov model proved inadequate for the whale song's complex structure.

Information theory, in contrast, proved perfect for analyzing humpback whale songs because it provided a quantitative analysis of the complexity and structure of the songs. "Information theory was the right choice because it allows one to study the structure of humpback songs without knowing what they mean," said Suzuki.

"I hope that knowing the hierarchical structure in humpback songs will inform research in other fields, such as evolutionary biology," said Suzuki. The technique he developed is already being used by a postdoctoral fellow in Buck's laboratory to analyze recently recorded songs of humpback whales from Australia.

More on this story:

http://livescience.com/animalw.....ammar.html

The recorded songs:

http://www.livescience.com/media/mp3/Humpbacks.mov

*************************************************************

Questions to explore further this topic:

What is information?

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASC/INFORMATION.html
http://www.ils.unc.edu/~losee/b5/book5.html

What is information theory?

http://www.lucent.com/minds/infotheory/what1.html
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Tutorials/Info-Theory/
http://www.mtm.ufsc.br/~taneja/book/node2.html
http://com.hilbert.edu/student.....ation.html
http://www.math.dartmouth.edu/.....eory.phtml
http://photonsstream.net/
http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASC/INFORM_THEOR.html
http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crs.....heory.html
http://www.mulhauser.net/resea.....exity.html

History of Information Theory

http://www.lucent.com/minds/in.....istory.pdf
http://www.lucent.com/minds/infotheory/who.html
http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.e.....nnon.shtml
http://www.nyu.edu/pages/lingu...../shan.html
http://www.utexas.edu/coc/jour.....annon.html

Why is information theory important?

http://www.lucent.com/minds/infotheory/why.html
http://www.research.att.com/history/48info.html

The original paper of Claude Shannon on the Mathematical Theory of Communication

http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/ms/.....paper.html

A short course on information theory

http://astarte.csustan.edu/~to.....fo-lec.pdf
http://wol.ra.phy.cam.ac.uk/ma.....ourse.html
http://www-lmmb.ncifcrf.gov/~t.....primer.pdf
http://web.njit.edu/~shi/courses/CoE421/ch-15.pdf
http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~mac.....node1.html

What is molecular information theory?

http://www-lecb.ncifcrf.gov/~toms/

Information Theory and Music

http://www.music-cog.ohio-stat.....heory.html
http://ourworld.compuserve.com.....theory.htm
http://ismir2002.ismir.net/pro.....SP05-4.pdf

Music Theory

http://library.thinkquest.org/15413/

Grammar and Information Theory

http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~pereira/papers/rsoc.pdf
http://www.dmi.columbia.edu/zellig/rev-LI-bn.html
http://www.dcs.shef.ac.uk/nlp/funded/eg_fund.html
http://www.space.com/searchfor.....60126.html

Entropy and Information Theory

http://www-ee.stanford.edu/~gray/it.pdf

The difference between entropy in chemistry and entropy in information theory

http://www.entropysite.com/shuffled_cards.html

GAMES

http://www.nyphilkids.org/main.phtml?
http://www.classicsforkids.com/games/index.asp
http://library.thinkquest.org/...../games.htm


Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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adedios
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:43 pm    Post subject: Legendary 'Unicorns' Have Individual Voices Reply with quote

Legendary 'Unicorns' Have Individual Voices

By Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 28 September 2006
05:23 pm ET

Arctic whales whose long, spiraled tusks created the myth of the unicorn seem to call out with individual voices, according to a new study.

Researchers think the vocalizations help narwhals to recognize each other or reunite with distant pods, just as our relatives can identify us over the phone, for instance.

Scientists have known that marine mammals rely on acoustic signaling for underwater communication. Whales speak in dialects, a recent study found. But few studies have looked at individual animal voices.


For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/ani.....speak.html
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adedios
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whale Vocabulary More Elaborate Than Thought

By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
posted: 27 November 2006
08:34 am ET

Humpback whales possess a vastly more elaborate vocabulary than was known, researchers now report.

Scientists had previously known of a very narrow range of sounds involved in humpback communication. These include calls associated with hunting for fish and long complex songs from male humpbacks linked with mating.

To investigate the whales further, researcher Rebecca Dunlop at the University of Queensland in Australia and colleagues monitored humpback sounds and activity from land as the whales migrated along the east coast of Australia from breeding grounds inside the Great Barrier Reef to feeding grounds in the Antarctic.

"The most surprising thing was there were 35 different types of sounds found. We were expecting less than 10," Dunlop told LiveScience.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/ani.....hales.html
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:26 am    Post subject: Scripps Oceanography Research Studies Shed New Light on Blue Reply with quote

February 27, 2007
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Scripps Oceanography Research Studies Shed New Light on Blue Whales and Their Calls

Acoustics data help researchers account for worldwide population distributions; Recording tags, tissue samples and sightings help define context for whale calls

For the full article:

http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/ar.....le_num=774
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adedios
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Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:41 am    Post subject: The Secret Language of Whales Revealed Reply with quote

The Secret Language of Whales Revealed

By Abigail W. Leonard
Special to LiveScience
posted: 06 March 2007
10:57 am ET

Deep below the ocean's surface, blue whales are singing—and for the first time, scientists think they know why. Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recorded the sounds and say they offer new insight into the behavior of the passenger jet-sized animals.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/ani.....erers.html
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