Next Article in Journal
Formulation of Exergy Cost Analysis to Graph-Based Thermal Network Models
Next Article in Special Issue
Impact Location and Quantification on an Aluminum Sandwich Panel Using Principal Component Analysis and Linear Approximation with Maximum Entropy
Previous Article in Journal
On Quantum Collapse as a Basis for the Second Law of Thermodynamics
Previous Article in Special Issue
Entropy-Based Method for Evaluating Contact Strain-Energy Distribution for Assembly Accuracy Prediction
Article Menu
Issue 3 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Entropy 2017, 19(3), 107;

Physical Intelligence and Thermodynamic Computing

Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, MD 20723, USA
Academic Editor: Dawn E. Holmes
Received: 22 January 2017 / Accepted: 6 March 2017 / Published: 9 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maximum Entropy and Its Application II)
Full-Text   |   PDF [3660 KB, uploaded 10 March 2017]   |  


This paper proposes that intelligent processes can be completely explained by thermodynamic principles. They can equally be described by information-theoretic principles that, from the standpoint of the required optimizations, are functionally equivalent. The underlying theory arises from two axioms regarding distinguishability and causality. Their consequence is a theory of computation that applies to the only two kinds of physical processes possible—those that reconstruct the past and those that control the future. Dissipative physical processes fall into the first class, whereas intelligent ones comprise the second. The first kind of process is exothermic and the latter is endothermic. Similarly, the first process dumps entropy and energy to its environment, whereas the second reduces entropy while requiring energy to operate. It is shown that high intelligence efficiency and high energy efficiency are synonymous. The theory suggests the usefulness of developing a new computing paradigm called Thermodynamic Computing to engineer intelligent processes. The described engineering formalism for the design of thermodynamic computers is a hybrid combination of information theory and thermodynamics. Elements of the engineering formalism are introduced in the reverse-engineer of a cortical neuron. The cortical neuron provides perhaps the simplest and most insightful example of a thermodynamic computer possible. It can be seen as a basic building block for constructing more intelligent thermodynamic circuits. View Full-Text
Keywords: Carnot cycle; causality; distinguishability; entropy; intelligent processes; questions Carnot cycle; causality; distinguishability; entropy; intelligent processes; questions

Figure 1

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. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Fry, R.L. Physical Intelligence and Thermodynamic Computing. Entropy 2017, 19, 107.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Entropy EISSN 1099-4300 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top