Chris Ford with "Analysis by Compression" by David Meredith

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The Cooperage, 5 Copper Row, London, SE1 2LH · London

How to find us

Eneter Copper Row pedonal path and go to the end where you will see the stairs leading to the entrance of the ZPG offices where uSwitch is located.

Location image of event venue


Chris Ford (@ctford) is presenting the paper "Analysis by Compression" by David Meredith. Please have a look at the paper here before the meeting (

• 6.30pm: pizza and drinks

• 7:00pm: presentation starts


In his paper 'Analysis by Compression', David Meredith wonders how are we supposed to decide which is “better” if we are given two analyses of the same musical work. His fascinating answer is to turn to complexity theory. Kolmogorov complexity analysis suggests that we can measure how well we understand a piece of music by the concision of a program that produces it. We can then compare programmatic 'explanations' of the same piece of music via their length.Meredith also sketches a way to apply his insight to psychological coding theory of perceptual organisation. If you accept his argument, it shows that complexity theory is not something we impose upon music, but is fundamental to the act of musical appreciation.

The Speaker

Chris is a certified BABE (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Engineering), and consequentially an idiophile and technophobe. He regards computers with fascination in theory and suspicion in practice. Chris began to make music with code to compensate for his poor piano technique. It was only later that he realised that programming offers deep insight into musical structure and theory. When he works, he works for ThoughtWorks, though that isn’t all the time.