Querying and Entropy

Information theory tells us that the more information there is in a text string, the less compressible it is. Similarly, the better a novel, the more it resists being summarized. Of course, in information theory, “information” is maximized when the string is completely random. Hmmm, that’s not how we use the word “information” in everyday discourse. Straddling both meanings, the less predictable the string/novel is, and the more there is going on in it, the more resistant to compression/summarizing it is. A good novel will surprise you.

But better novels are written by better writers. Better writers might be more skilled at summarizing, as well as writing novels. Er, maybe. Overall, it seems likely that the difficulty of summarizing a brilliant novel overwhelms the better skill.

Me: “I’m having a hard time writing a query I’m happy with.”
Claude Shannon: “Fantastic!”