The Capacity of a Channel with an Image as the Information Source


We consider the physical limitations imposed on the information content of an image by the wave and quantum nature of light, when the image is obtained by illuminating a reflecting or transmitting planar object by natural (i.e., fully thermalized) light, or by observation of an object emitting incoherent (thermal) radiation. The discreteness of the degrees of freedom and the statistical properties of thermal radiation are taken into account. We derive the maximum amount of information that can be retrieved from the object. This amount is always finite and is proportional to the area of the object, the solid angle under which the entrance pupil of the receiver is seen from the object, and the time of observation. An explicit expression for the information in the case where the information recorded by the receiver obeys Planck’s spectral distribution is obtained. The amount of information per photon of recorded radiation is a universal numerical constant, independent of the parameters of observation.

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Levitin, L. and Toffoli, T. (2014) The Capacity of a Channel with an Image as the Information Source. Journal of Quantum Information Science, 4, 111-116. doi: 10.4236/jqis.2014.42012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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