CharacterInformation() calculates the cladistic information content (Steel and Penny 2006) of a given character, in bits. The total information in all characters gives a measure of the potential utility of a dataset (Cotton and Wilkinson 2008) , which can be compared with a profile parsimony score (Faith and Trueman 2001) to evaluate the degree of homoplasy within a dataset.




Character vector specifying the tokens assigned to each taxon for a character. Example: c(0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, '?', '-').

Note that ambiguous tokens such as (01) are not supported, and should be replaced with ?.


CharacterInformation() returns a numeric specifying the phylogenetic information content of the character (sensu Steel & Penny 2006), in bits.


  • Cotton JA, Wilkinson M (2008). “Quantifying the potential utility of phylogenetic characters.” Taxon, 57(1), 131--136.

    Faith DP, Trueman JWH (2001). “Towards an inclusive philosophy for phylogenetic inference.” Systematic Biology, 50(3), 331--350. doi: 10.1080/10635150118627 .

    Steel MA, Penny D (2006). “Maximum parsimony and the phylogenetic information in multistate characters.” In Albert VA (ed.), Parsimony, Phylogeny, and Genomics, 163--178. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

See also


Martin R. Smith (