Compression as a Universal Principle of Animal Behavior

@article{FerreriCancho2013CompressionAA,
  title={Compression as a Universal Principle of Animal Behavior},
  author={Ramon Ferrer-i-Cancho and Antoni Hern{\'a}ndez-Fern{\'a}ndez and David Lusseau and Govindasamy Agoramoorthy and Minna J. Hsu and Stuart Semple},
  journal={Cognitive science},
  year={2013},
  volume={37 8},
  pages={
          1565-78
        }
}
A key aim in biology and psychology is to identify fundamental principles underpinning the behavior of animals, including humans. Analyses of human language and the behavior of a range of non-human animal species have provided evidence for a common pattern underlying diverse behavioral phenomena: Words follow Zipf's law of brevity (the tendency of more frequently used words to be shorter), and conformity to this general pattern has been seen in the behavior of a number of other animals. It has… 
Compression and the origins of Zipf's law of abbreviation
TLDR
This work generalizes the information theoretic concept of mean code length as a mean energetic cost function over the probability and the magnitude of the types of the repertoire and shows that the minimization of that cost function and a negative correlation between probability andThe magnitude of types are intimately related.
Zipf's Law of Abbreviation and the Principle of Least Effort
The linguist George Kingsley Zipf made a now classic observation about the relationship between a word’s length and its frequency; the more frequent a word is, the shorter it tends to be. He claimed
Brevity is not a universal in animal communication: evidence for compression depends on the unit of analysis in small ape vocalizations
TLDR
The results indicate that adherence to linguistic laws in male gibbon solos depends on the unit of analysis, and conclude that principles of compression are applicable outside of human language, but may act differently across levels of organization in biological systems.
Linguistic laws in chimpanzee gestural communication
TLDR
A negative correlation between number and mean duration of gestures in sequences, in line with Menzerath's law is found, providing the first evidence that compression underpins animal gestural communication, and highlight an important commonality between primate gesturing and language.
Optimal Coding and the Origins of Zipfian Laws
TLDR
The problem of optimal coding under so-called non-singular coding is considered and it is shown that it predicts Zipf’s law of abbreviation, namely a tendency in natural languages for more frequent words to be shorter.
Linguistic laws of brevity: conformity in Indri indri
TLDR
The vocal behavior of the unique singing lemur species Indri indri is analyzed to assess whether the song of the species shows evidence for compression, and the results indicate that indris’ songs conform to Zipf’s and Menzerath–Altmann linguistic laws.
Gelada vocal sequences follow Menzerath’s linguistic law
TLDR
In vocal sequences of wild male geladas (Theropithecus gelada), construct size is negatively correlated with constituent size (duration of calls) and formal mathematical support is provided for the idea that Menzerath’s law reflects compression—the principle of minimizing the expected length of a code.
Anti-efficient encoding in emergent communication
TLDR
Surprisingly, networks develop an anti-efficient encoding scheme, in which the most frequent inputs are associated to the longest messages, and messages in general are skewed towards the maximum length threshold.
Do penguins’ vocal sequences conform to linguistic laws?
TLDR
The results provide the first evidence for conformity to Zipf's and Menzerath–Altmann Laws in the vocal sequences of a non-primate species, indicating that these laws can coexist with selection pressures specific to the species' ecology.
...
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 59 REFERENCES
The challenges of statistical patterns of language: The case of Menzerath's law in genomes
TLDR
The wide range of manifestations of the law in and outside genomes suggests that the striking similarities between non-coding DNA and certain linguistics units could be anecdotal for understanding the recurrence of that statistical law.
The myth of language universals: language diversity and its importance for cognitive science.
TLDR
This target article summarizes decades of cross-linguistic work by typologists and descriptive linguists, showing just how few and unprofound the universal characteristics of language are, once the authors honestly confront the diversity offered to us by the world's 6,000 to 8,000 languages.
The span of correlations in dolphin whistle sequences
TLDR
It is shown that statistically significant whistle–whistle correlations extend back to the second previous whistle in the sequence, using a global randomization test, and to the fourth previous whistle,Using a localrandomization test.
Brevity is not always a virtue in primate communication
TLDR
Analysis of the frequency of use of signals of different duration in the vocal repertoires of two Neotropical primate species studied in the wild found the key prediction of the law of brevity was not supported in either species: although the most frequently emitted calls were relatively brief, they were not the shortest signals in the repertoire.
Efficiency of coding in macaque vocal communication
TLDR
It is shown that the vocal repertoire of the Formosan macaque (Macaca cyclopis) conforms to the pattern predicted by the law of brevity, with an inverse relationship found between call duration and rate of utterance.
The Failure of the Law of Brevity in Two New World Primates. Statistical Caveats.
TLDR
It is argued that Zipf’s law of brevity may be impossible or difficult to detect statistically in a given species if the repertoire is too small, a problem that could be affecting golden backed uakaris, and shown that the law is present in a subset of the repertoire of common marmosets.
Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: An experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language
TLDR
The first experimental validation for the idea that cultural transmission can lead to the appearance of design without a designer is provided, which shows that languages transmitted culturally evolve in such a way as to maximize their own transmissibility.
Random Texts Do Not Exhibit the Real Zipf's Law-Like Rank Distribution
TLDR
It is suggested that Zipf's law might in fact be a fundamental law in natural languages because it is demonstrated that ranks derived from random texts and ranksderived from real texts are statistically inconsistent with the parameters employed to argue for such a good fit, even when the parameters are inferred from the target real text.
Language evolution and information theory.
TLDR
A general model of word formation is developed and the connection between the error limit and Shannon's noisy coding theorem is demonstrated.
The principles of collective animal behaviour
  • D. Sumpter
  • Biology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2005
TLDR
It is argued that the key to understanding collective behaviour lies in identifying the principles of the behavioural algorithms followed by individual animals and of how information flows between the animals.
...
...