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Entropy 2014, 16(2), 699-725; doi:10.3390/e16020699
Article

Thermodynamics as Control Theory

Received: 23 October 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published: 24 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maxwell’s Demon 2013)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [258 KB, 24 February 2015; original version 24 February 2015]

Abstract

I explore the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics by treating the former as a control theory: A theory of which transitions between states can be induced on a system (assumed to obey some known underlying dynamics) by means of operations from a fixed list. I recover the results of standard thermodynamics in this framework on the assumption that the available operations do not include measurements which affect subsequent choices of operations. I then relax this assumption and use the framework to consider the vexed questions of Maxwell’s demon and Landauer’s principle. Throughout, I assume rather than prove the basic irreversibility features of statistical mechanics, taking care to distinguish them from the conceptually distinct assumptions of thermodynamics proper.
Keywords: thermodynamics; landauer; control theory thermodynamics; landauer; control theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Wallace, D. Thermodynamics as Control Theory. Entropy 2014, 16, 699-725.

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