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Capacity of the brain

Bill Skaggs skaggs at bns.pitt.edu
Tue Aug 31 14:50:14 EST 1999

schreudje at my-deja.com writes:

> Thomas K. Landauer (Bell Communications Research) estimated the storage
> capacity of the human brain at around  1.5 x 10**9 bits.
> (somewhat low?) see: Cognitive Science, vol. 10, 477-493 (1986)
> Reasonable? No idea.. too many assumptions.
> Robert Schreuder

Yes, about 200 megabytes!  It's a cool paper, but he wasn't actually
trying to measure the capacity of the brain, he was trying to measure
the amount of information that a person knows.  He also assumed
optimal compression of the information.  It seems unlikely that the
brain stores information in anything like an optimally compressed

As you say, the calculations involve a lot of assumptions---still it's
provocative to think that a person's entire lifetime knowledge base
might fit on a single CD-ROM!

	-- Bill

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