Information theory

Information theory
Primary topic
Related topics
Methods and techniques

Information theory is concept describing features of data and information flow within and between complex systems. The term information is derived from the Latin phrase information, meaning an idea, an explanation of the notice, and is commonly used to describe any message. The concepts of information, intuitively understandable for everyone, can not be clearly defined. In some functional considerations there is distinction between data and information.

Term data is used to describe un-processed facts and figures reflecting some aspects of reality. Information relates to data which is presented as having any significance. Interpretation of the data is source of information. In computer science, there is clear distinction between data and news. The data is the form of information that can be processed using a computer and the messages are ordered sets of data that contain information for management.

Levels of information

  • Data - facts, figures, observations, record of reality
  • Information - data processed, analyzed, aggregated and presented
  • Knowledge - is created in the mind of the manager in the process of interpreting the data and information received

Features of information

  • Quality - compliance with the reality, accuracy, form of presentation
  • Timeliness - is dependent on the situation and needs of managers, is related to the time that elapses from the occurrence of the phenomenon to obtain information about it
  • Amount of information - too much information can be a problem for managers
  • Responsiveness - matching of information to the specific needs of the job
  • Cost of information - expenses related to the acquisition, storage and analysis of information
  • The value of information - the impact that information has on economic results of decision-making


  • Cover, T. M., & Thomas, J. A. (2012). Elements of information theory. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Dretske, F. (1981). Knowledge and the Flow of Information.
  • Gregor, S. (2006). The nature of theory in information systems. MIS quarterly, 611-642.
  • Johnson, R. A., Kast, F. E., & Rosenzweig, J. E. (1964). Systems theory and management. Management Science, 10(2), 367-384.
  • McEliece, R. (2002). The theory of information and coding. Cambridge University Press.

Author: Krzysztof Wozniak