Waiting for Landauer


Authors
John D. Norton
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
Landauer's Principle asserts that there is an unavoidable cost in thermodynamic entropy creation when data is erased. It is usually derived from incorrect assumptions, most notably, that erasure must compress the phase space of a memory device or that thermodynamic entropy arises from the probabilistic uncertainty of random data. Recent work seeks to prove Landauer’s Principle without using these assumptions. I show that the processes assumed in the proof, and in the thermodynamics of computation more generally, can be combined to produce devices that both violate the second law and erase data without entropy cost, indicating an inconsistency in the theoretical system. Worse, the standard repertoire of processes selectively neglects thermal fluctuations. Concrete proposals for how we might measure dissipationlessly and expand single molecule gases reversibly are shown to be fatally disrupted by fluctuations. Reversible, isothermal processes on molecular scales are shown to be disrupted by fluctuations that can only be overcome by introducing entropy creating, dissipative processes.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2011.05.002
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References found in this work BETA

Ignorance and Indifference.John D. Norton - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (1):45-68.
Eaters of the Lotus: Landauer's Principle and the Return of Maxwell's Demon.John D. Norton - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2):375-411.
Notes on Landauer's Principle, Reversible Computation, and Maxwell's Demon.Charles H. Bennett - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (3):501-510.
Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell’s Demon. Part I. From Maxwell to Szilard.John Earman & John D. Norton - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (4):435-471.

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Citations of this work BETA

Maxwell's Demon Does Not Compute.John D. Norton - forthcoming - In Michael Cuffaro & Samuel C. Fletcher (eds.), Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics. Cambridge University Press.
Infinite Idealizations.John D. Norton - 2012 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 17:197-210.
The Thermodynamic Cost of Fast Thought.Alexandre de Castro - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (4):473-487.

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