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

Thermodynamics as Control Theory

Balliol College, Oxford OX1 3BJ, UK
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 (CC BY 3.0).
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Wallace, D. Thermodynamics as Control Theory. Entropy 2014, 16, 699-725.

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