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Entropy? Exercices de Style

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstrasse 22, 14107 Berlin, Germany
Entropy 2019, 21(8), 742;
Received: 17 June 2019 / Revised: 25 July 2019 / Accepted: 26 July 2019 / Published: 29 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Entropy Reviews)
PDF [299 KB, uploaded 29 July 2019]


Since its inception, the concept of entropy has been known under a variety of guises and been used in an increasing number of contexts, achieving an almost rock star-like status in both the sciences and popular culture. The three most prominent “styles” which entropy has been (re)told in and which have determined its popularity are the thermodynamic, statistical and information-theoretic one, owing much to the work of Clausius, Boltzmann and Gibbs, and Shannon, respectively. In the relentless hunt for the core of the concept that spurred this development, connections with irreversibility and emergence of time, nature of probability and information emerged adding to its elusiveness as much as stimulating its proliferation and cross-contextual adoption. In this historical review, we retrace, through primary and secondary sources, the three main perspectives from which entropy has been regarded, emphasising the motivations behind each new version, their ramifications and the bridges that have been constructed to justify them. From this analysis of the foundations a number of characteristic traits of the concept emerge that underline its exceptionality as an engine of conceptual progress. View Full-Text
Keywords: entropy; conceptual analysis; history of physics; statistical mechanics; information theory entropy; conceptual analysis; history of physics; statistical mechanics; information 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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Gaudenzi, R. Entropy? Exercices de Style. Entropy 2019, 21, 742.

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