Reliable Communication of Highly Distributed Information
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Shannon’s theory of information  and subsequent generalizations to multiple users (for a survey see ) consider the situation of a small number of users each with an unlimited amount of information. The users communicate over a noisy channel with the goal of exchanging their information reliably. Here, we consider a complementary model. We assume a very large number of users, each with a small amount of information. We also assume that the communication takes place over a noisy channel but assume that the goal of the users is to compute a function reliably. This highly distributed information model is motivated by problems of decision making in a network. The users could be either a large number of processors, human beings, or simply the components of a logic circuit. In all cases, the noise is an inevitable physical limitation.
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