I. S. Mian
Honorary Professor
Department of Computer Science
University College London
66 Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Research interests

Dark Information

Any collection of interacting entities – animate or inanimate, real or virtual, ancient or modern – can be abstracted and analysed as a “black box” communication channel. Deeper understanding is possible if details of the underlying system are available. Information theory, communication theory and network information theory offer a unique palette of ideas, concepts, and techniques for exploring natural systems: from the ecological, evolutionary, and molecular factors contributing to their formation, stability, and function; through how they adapt and respond to environmental stimuli; to potential insights that may assist in sustaining and improving the health of organisms and ecosystems.

Dark Information describes information that is neither easily detected nor understood in isolation, but that nonetheless exists and is open to careful theoretical inspection and amenable to experimental enquiry. In a network of intercommunicating elements, dark information resides in the constituent elements themselves (what is present), in their spatiotemporal contexts (what is present where and when), and in their interactions (what speaks to what).

Resource constrained-communication and resource constrained-computation

In the biosphere, a message is a quantity varying in space or time that might provide information about the status of the physical system that sent it. In the digital world, a signal is a function that conveys information about the attributes or behaviour of a phenomenon. Typically, the information in a message or a signal is accompanied by noise – be it undesirable random disturbances or unwanted messages or signals which conflict with the desired message or signal (for example, cross-talk) – and transmission takes place in the presence of third parties (adversaries, eavesdroppers, internal attackers, and external attackers). To convey useful information, a sender must utilise energy and materials to impose spatial and temporal structure on the message or signal and/or prevent its interception. However, there are limits on the resources available for communication in the physical and virtual realms: energy, materials, space, and time are invariably scarce and at a premium. Thus, resource use is, or needs to be, minimal and minimised in both arenas.