A note on rational inattention and rate distortion theory

  • Tommaso Denti
  • Massimo MarinacciEmail author
  • Luigi Montrucchio


In this teaching note, we discuss the relation between rational inattention and a major branch of information theory called “rate distortion theory.” Focusing on methods, we translate tools from rate distortion theory into the language of rational inattention. These tools provide an alternative, more primitive, approach to the study of optimal attention allocation.


Rational inattention Information theory Rate distortion theory 

JEL Classification

D81 D83 C6 



Funding was provided by H2020 European Research Council (Grant No. 670337).


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Copyright information

© Associazione per la Matematica Applicata alle Scienze Economiche e Sociali (AMASES) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Decision Sciences and IGIERUniversità BocconiMilanItaly
  3. 3.Collegio Carlo AlbertoUniversità di TorinoTurinItaly

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