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Communication (from Latin communicare, meaning "to share")[1][better source needed] is the act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic rules.

The main steps inherent to all communication are:[2]

  1. The formation of communicative motivation or reason.
  2. Message composition (further internal or technical elaboration on what exactly to express).
  3. Message encoding (for example, into digital data, written text, speech, pictures, gestures and so on).
  4. Transmission of the encoded message as a sequence of signals using a specific channel or medium.
  5. Noise sources such as natural forces and in some cases human activity (both intentional and accidental) begin influencing the quality of signals propagating from the sender to one or more receivers.
  6. Reception of signals and reassembling of the encoded message from a sequence of received signals.
  7. Decoding of the reassembled encoded message.
  8. Interpretation and making sense of the presumed original message.

The scientific study of communication can be divided into:

  • Information theory which studies the quantification, storage, and communication of information in general;
  • Communication studies which concerns human communication;
  • Biosemiotics which examines communication in and between living organisms in general.
  • Biocommunication which exemplifies sign-mediated interactions in and between organisms of all domains of life, including viruses.

The channel of communication can be visual, auditory, tactile/haptic (e.g. Braille or other physical means), olfactory, electromagnetic, or biochemical. Human communication is unique for its extensive use of abstract language. Development of civilization has been closely linked with progress in telecommunication.

The academic discipline that deals with processes of human communication is communication studies. The discipline encompasses a range of topics, from face-to-face conversation to mass media outlets such as television broadcasting. Communication studies also examines how messages are interpreted through the political, cultural, economic, semiotic, hermeneutic, and social dimensions of their contexts. Statistics, as a quantitative approach to communication science, has also been incorporated into research on communication science in order to help substantiate claims.[48]

See also