Notes on Landauer's principle, reversible computation, and Maxwell's Demon

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (3):501-510 (2003)
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Abstract

Landauer's principle, often regarded as the basic principle of the thermodynamics of information processing, holds that any logically irreversible manipulation of information, such as the erasure of a bit or the merging of two computation paths, must be accompanied by a corresponding entropy increase in non-information-bearing degrees of freedom of the information-processing apparatus or its environment. Conversely, it is generally accepted that any logically reversible transformation of information can in principle be accomplished by an appropriate physical mechanism operating in a thermodynamically reversible fashion. These notions have sometimes been criticized either as being false, or as being trivial and obvious, and therefore unhelpful for purposes such as explaining why Maxwell's Demon cannot violate the second law of thermodynamics. Here I attempt to refute some of the arguments against Landauer's principle, while arguing that although in a sense it is indeed a straightforward consequence or restatement of the Second Law, it still has considerable pedagogic and explanatory power, especially in the context of other influential ideas in nineteenth and twentieth century physics. Similar arguments have been given by Jeffrey Bub

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Citations of this work

Compendium of the Foundations of Classical Statistical Physics.Jos Uffink - 2005 - In Jeremy Butterfield & John Earman (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Physics. Elsevier.
Eaters of the Lotus: Landauer's Principle and the Return of Maxwell's Demon.John D. Norton - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2):375-411.
The Physics of Implementing Logic: Landauer's Principle and the Multiple-Computations Theorem.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 68:90-105.
Waiting for Landauer.John D. Norton - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (3):184-198.

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References found in this work

Maxwell's Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation.Jeffrey Bub - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):569-579.

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