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Code

 
 Editor
Díaz Nafría, José María  jnafria@uax.es
 Incorporated contributions
Díaz (09/01/09)
 Usage domain
transdisciplinary, communication theory, cybernetics, semiotics
 Type
concept
 French
code
 German Kode

Code is a system of signs and rules for converting a piece of information (for instance, a letter, word, or phrase) into another form or representation, not necessarily of the same type. In communication (especially, in telecommunications) and information processing: encoding is the process by which information is converted into symbols (usually belonging to an →alphabet) being communicated, stored or processed; whereas decoding is the reverse process which reconverts code symbols into information understandable or useful to the receiver (→encoder and decoder)

Notice that from this point of view the code is supposed to be simultaneously known by the sender (or source) and the receiver (or destination), which explains the inter-comprehension between them (in case it involves intention) or interoperability (if the information is understood only at a pragmatic or operational level). Therefore, this point of view deals with a traditional relation to →reversibility, which would explain neither the emergence nor the dynamics of code. An improvement of this perspective can be found in Foerster´s criticism of cybernetics of the first order, which is intended to be improved in cybernetics of the second order as means of explaining self-referential and autopoietic processes (→cybernetics, autopoiesis, Foerster 1984).

In semiotics, a code -as system of signs- is a system of correlations or correlational rules between the coding system (system of signifiers or syntactic space or expression space) and a codified system (system of meanings or semantic space or content space). In words of Umberto Eco, the code “associates a vehicle-of-the-sign (or signifier) with some-thing that is called its meaning or sense” (Eco 1973).


References
  • ASHBY, W.R. (1957). An introduction to cybernetics. London: Chapman and Hall.
  • ECO, U. (1973), "Social Life as Sign System". In D. ROBEY, Structuralism, an Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • FOERSTER, H. von (1981). Observing systems. Seaside, CA: Intersystems Publications. 
  • MORRIS, C.W. (1985). Fundamentos de la teoría de los signos. Barcelona: Paidós.
  • SHANNON, C. E., “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”. The Bell System Technical Jour-nal, Vol. 27, pp. 379–423, 623–656, July, October, 1948.
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Díaz Nafría (09/01/09)
 
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