From Encyclopedia of Mathematics
Revision as of 16:59, 7 February 2011 by (talk) (Importing text file)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

of a set in a metric space

The logarithm to the base 2 of the smallest number of points in an -net for this set. In other words, the -entropy of a set lying in a metric space is


and is a ball of radius with centre at . The definition of was given by A.N. Kolmogorov in [1], motivated by ideas and definitions of information theory (cf. Information theory). is also called the relative -entropy; it depends on the space in which the set is situated, that is, on the metric extension of . The quantity

where the infimum is taken over all metric extensions of , is called the absolute -entropy of . It may also be defined directly (Kolmogorov, [1]): for a metric space , is the logarithm to the base 2 of the cardinality of the most economic (by the number of sets) -covering of . Here a system of sets is called a -covering of if , and the diameter of each set does not exceed . It has been shown [2] that the absolute -entropy is the minimum relative -entropy. The quantities and are inverse to the widths (cf. Width) and . This characterizes the fact that it is possible to recover the elements of from tables of elements and to approximate by -point sets.

The investigation of the asymptotic behaviour of the -entropy of various function classes is a special branch of approximation theory.


[1] A.N. Kolmogorov, "On certain asymptotic characteristics of completely bounded metric spaces" Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR , 108 : 3 (1956) pp. 385–388 (In Russian)
[2] A.G. Vitushkin, "Theory of transmission and processing of information" , Pergamon (1961) (Translated from Russian)
[3] A.N. Kolmogorov, V.M. Tikhomirov, "-entropy and -capacity of sets in functional spaces" Amer. Math. Soc. Transl. Ser. 2 , 17 (1961) pp. 277–364 Uspekhi Mat. Nauk , 14 : 2 (1959) pp. 3–86


Kolmogorov's original definition was formulated to investigate the question of whether functions of variables are representable as compositions of functions of variables. This has a great deal to do with Hilbert's 13th problem, cf. [2] and [a1].

The notion of -entropy has also proved useful in probability theory, cf. [a2]. It is also called metric entropy.

The -entropy is defined by considering coverings of by -balls. An -packing of is a collection of -balls such that if and . Let be the maximum cardinality of a packing in . Then is called the -capacity of in .

There are a number of additional (but not unrelated) notions of -entropy for random variables and random processes. They are defined as follows. Let be a random variable with values in a metric space . Let be the set of all random variables with values in such that , where denotes mathematical expectation. Then the -entropy of is ([a3])

where is the usual information function for a pair of random variables (cf. Information). This idea can be easily extended to random processes by regarding such a process as a random variable with values in , say. [a4] contains some asymptotic estimates of .

Now let be a probabilistic metric space, i.e. is a metric space and is a probability space. For , let be the set of all partitions of (cf. Decomposition) into measurable sets of diameter . Then ([a5]) one defines

where denotes the ordinary entropy of the partition . Define

where ( factors) with the product measure and distance. (This limit exists.) For a measure on such that for all measurable , let

be the Radon–Nikodým derivative. Let be the set of all measures on the measurable space such that for measurable and


which is a noisy channel coding theorem; cf. [a6]. There are also estimates both ways relating and ; cf. [a6]. Cf. also [a7] for (more) relations between and (extended notions of) Shannon entropy.

Define the absolute -entropy (as in the main article above) by means of -partitions of by means of Borel sets. Then

but it need not be true that the supremum of the for varying on is equal to , cf. [a5].

Now let again , , be a stochastic Gaussian process (real-valued), let be its covariance function and let be the integral operator with kernel , i.e.

Let be the eigen values of . For define a function by the equality

Then Pinsker's theorem says that

(where log stands for the logarithm to the base 2). One also has ([a8]): For all ,

where for a suitable operator on a Hilbert space the entropy is defined as the metric entropy of the set :


[a1] G.G. Lorentz, "The 13-th problem of Hilbert" F.E. Browder (ed.) , Mathematical developments arising from Hilbert problems , Proc. Symp. Pure Math. , 28 , Amer. Math. Soc. (1976) pp. 419–430
[a2] R.M. Dudley, "Metric entropy and the central limit theorem in " Ann. Inst. Fourier (Grenoble) , 24 (1974) pp. 49–60
[a3] A.N. Kolmogorov, "Theory of transmission of information" Amer. Math. Soc. Transl. Ser. 2 , 33 (1963) pp. 291–321 Acad. R. P. Romine An. Romino-Sov. , 13 : 1 (1959) pp. 5–33
[a4] J. Biria, M. Zakai, J. Ziv, "On the -entropy and the rate distortion function of certain non-Gaussian processes" IEEE Trans. Inform. Theory , 20 (1974) pp. 517–524
[a5] E.C. Posner, E.R. Rodenich, H. Rumsey, "-Entropy of stochastic processes" Ann. Math. Stat. , 38 (1967) pp. 1000–1020
[a6] E.C. Posner, E.R. Rodenich, "Epsilon entropy and data compression" Ann. Math. Stat. , 42 (1971) pp. 2079–2125
[a7] M. Katětov, "On extended Shannon entropies and the epsilon entropy" Comm. Math. Univ. Carolinae , 27 (1986) pp. 519–534
[a8] S. Akashi, "On operator theoretical characterization of epsilon-entropy in Gaussian processes" Kodai Math. J. , 9 (1986) pp. 58–67
How to Cite This Entry:
Epsilon-entropy. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by V.M. Tikhomirov (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article