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Maxwell's Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation

Bub, Jeffrey (2000) Maxwell's Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation. UNSPECIFIED. (In Press)

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It is generally accepted, following Landauer and Bennett, that the process of measurement involves no minimum entropy cost, but the erasure of information in resetting the memory register of a computer to zero requires dissipating heat into the environment. This thesis has been challenged recently in a two-part article by Earman and Norton. I review some relevant observations in the thermodynamics of computation and argue that Earman and Norton are mistaken: there is in principle no entropy cost to the acquisition of information, but the destruction of information does involve an irreducible entropy cost.

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Item Type: Other
Bub, Jeffrey
Keywords: Maxwell's Demon, thermodynamics of computation, entropy of erasure
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Jeffrey Bub
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2001
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:10
Item ID: 230
Public Domain: No
Commentary on: J. Earman and J.D. Norton, `Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell's Demon. Part I. From Maxwell to Szilard,' Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29, 435--471 (1998).

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