DOI: 10.1101/507459Dec 28, 2018Paper

Natural selection subsumes and unites multiple theories of perceptual compression

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Victor Quintanar-Zilinskas


Perceptual processing is thought to occur in two stages: compression of external world information, followed by inference of external world state. While inference is believed to be Bayes-optimal, the model for optimal compression is comparatively less well-established: multiple signal processing frameworks have been used to explain empirical outcomes and hypothesized to align with Darwinian fitness. Here I endeavor to constrain the model space by framing fitness as a function of the compression scheme and optimizing fitness directly. I find that signal processing and fitness objectives often deviate; for example, in a finite game where risk-avoidant bet-hedging beats maximization of average performance. However, when average performance determines fitness, then both are maximized by minimized cost-weighted signal distortion. Meanwhile, the signal processing metrics of estimation error and mutual information align with these latter objectives only under very specific circumstances. Taken together, my results establish a Darwinian (nested) hierarchy of perceptual compression objectives, which extends the existing understanding of optimal compression by incorporating not just signal processing but also economic frameworks, and rec...Continue Reading

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