# Kolmogorov Complexity

June, 2023

Algorithmic information theory is the area of computer science that studies Kolmogorov complexity and other complexity measures on strings (or other data structures).

The concept and theory of Kolmogorov Complexity is based on a crucial theorem first discovered by Ray Solomonoff, who published it in 1960, describing it in "A Preliminary Report on a General Theory of Inductive Inference" as part of his invention of algorithmic probability. He gave a more complete description in his 1964 publications, "A Formal Theory of Inductive Inference," Part 1 and Part 2 in *Information and Control*.

The theorem says that, among algorithms that decode strings from their descriptions (codes), there exists an optimal one. This algorithm, for all strings, allows codes as short as allowed by any other algorithm up to an additive constant that depends on the algorithms, but not on the strings themselves. Solomonoff used this algorithm and the code lengths it allows to define a "universal probability" of a string on which inductive inference of the subsequent digits of the string can be based. Kolmogorov used this theorem to define several functions of strings, including complexity, randomness, and information.

There are several other variants of Kolmogorov complexity or algorithmic information. The most widely used one is based on self-delimiting programs.