First stage identification of syntactic elements in an extra-terrestrial signal

John Elliott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By investigating the generic attributes of a representative set of terrestrial languages at varying levels of abstraction, it is our endeavour to try and isolate elements of the signal universe, which are computationally tractable for its detection and structural decipherment. Ultimately, our aim is to contribute in some way to the understanding of what 'languageness' actually is. This paper describes algorithms and software developed to characterise and detect generic intelligent language-like features in an input signal, using natural language learning techniques: looking for characteristic statistical "language-signatures" in test corpora. As a first step towards such species-independent language-detection, we present a suite of programs to analyse digital representations of a range of data, and use the results to extrapolate whether or not there are language-like structures which distinguish this data from other sources, such as music, images, and white noise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Audio
  • Cognition
  • Decipherment
  • Entropy
  • Extraterrestrial
  • Language
  • Structure


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