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

Thermodynamics as Control Theory

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Received: 23 October 2013; in revised form: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published: 24 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maxwell’s Demon 2013)
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.
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
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MDPI and ACS Style

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

AMA Style

Wallace D. Thermodynamics as Control Theory. Entropy. 2014; 16(2):699-725.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wallace, David. 2014. "Thermodynamics as Control Theory." Entropy 16, no. 2: 699-725.

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