Special Issue "Physical Information and the Physical Foundations of Computation"

A special issue of Entropy (ISSN 1099-4300).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Neal G. Anderson
Guest Editor
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003-9292, USA
Interests: fundamental physical understanding of information and computation, physical-information theories, energy efficiency of computation, fundamental physical limits in computation, post-CMOS nanocomputing and other unconventional and natural computing paradigms

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nearly six decades have passed since Landauer declared that “information is physical” and proposed a fundamental thermodynamic link between information erasure and heat generation in computing processes. While Landauer’s ideas have been extensively analyzed, interpreted, and critiqued from multiple perspectives and have been generalized and extended within various physical theories of information and computation, they remain stubbornly controversial. This is a symptom of a broader and somewhat ironic predicament: Deep in this information age, we have highly sophisticated and widely used models of computing machines as physical systems, but we remain without a comprehensive and widely accepted fundamental understanding of computation as a distinct physical process with information as its physical currency. Without such an understanding, we cannot expect consensus resolution of contested claims associated with the physicality of information or, more generally, claim an established physical foundation for computation.

This Special Issue aims to clarify and advance the physical understanding of information and computation. We invite a broad range of original, high-quality contributions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—including but not limited to engineering, physics, computer science, neuroscience, information science, biological physics, and the philosophy of science—that explicitly address fundamental links between physics, information, and computation. Submissions are welcome on all topics that serve to clarify and illuminate the physical dimensions of information and computation, codify them in physical definitions and theories, and reveal their consequences and implications.

Prof. Neal G. Anderson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Entropy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Physical conceptions, definitions, and measures of information (entropic and otherwise)
  • Physical conceptions, definitions, and measures of computation (thermodynamic and otherwise)
  • Physical information in specific computing contexts (digital, analog, natural, reversible, quantum, neural)
  • Distinctions between physical dynamics, information processing, and computation
  • Observer- and user-dependent notions of information and computation and their formal physical description
  • Fundamental physical limits and resource requirements for computation
  • Fluctuations and noise in physical information and computation
  • New perspectives on Landauer’s Principle, Maxwell’s Demon, and other controversial issues, including paths toward resolution
  • Other topics that explicitly address links between physics, information, and computation, including substantiated denials of such links

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

"Information: The Ghost in the Computing Machine?"
Neal G. Anderson

"Dissipation and Irreversibility in Computing"
David Ferry and Wolfgang Porod

"Physical Foundations of Classical Reversible Computing"
Michael P. Frank and Karpur Shukla

"Thermodynamic Information Networks"
Todd Hylton

"Blind Witnesses Quench Quantum Interference Without Transfer of Information"
Craig S. Lent

"Analog Information"
Corey John Maley

"Reification, Abstraction and Intention"
Raymond Turner

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