Subject: Life Sciences, Biophysics Keywords: information; entropy; energy; thermodynamics; Landauer's principle; action potential
Online: 4 February 2020 (04:42:05 CET)
In computational neuroscience, spiking neurons are often analyzed as computing devices that register bits of information, with each action potential carrying at most one bit of Shannon entropy. Here, I question this interpretation by using Landauer's principle to estimate an upper limit for the quantity of thermodynamic information that can be dissipated by a single action potential in a typical mammalian neuron. I show that an action potential in a typical mammalian cortical pyramidal cell can carry up to approximately 3.4e11 natural units of thermodynamic information, or about 4.9e11 bits of Shannon entropy. This result suggests that an action potential can process much more information than a single bit of Shannon entropy.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201811.0570.v1
Subject: Physical Sciences, General & Theoretical Physics Keywords: Maxwell's demon; Shannon entropy; information engine; Landauer's principle; Szilard engine; second law of thermodynamics
Online: 26 November 2018 (05:27:27 CET)
We introduce and investigate a simple and explicitly mechanical model of Maxwell's demon -- a device that interacts with a memory register (a stream of bits), a thermal reservoir (an ideal gas) and a work reservoir (a mass that can be lifted or lowered). Our device is similar to one that we have briefly described elsewhere , but it has the additional feature that it can be programmed to recognize a chosen reference sequence, for instance, the binary representation of $\pi$. If the bits in the memory register match those of the reference sequence, then the device extracts heat from the thermal reservoir and converts it into work to lift a small mass. Conversely, the device can operate as a generalized Landauer's eraser (or copier), harnessing the energy of a dropping mass to write the chosen reference sequence onto the memory register, replacing whatever information may previously have been stored there. Our model can be interpreted either as a machine that autonomously performs a conversion between information and energy, or else as a feedback-controlled device that is operated by an external agent. We derive generalized second laws of thermodynamics for both pictures. We illustrate our model with numerical simulations, as well as analytical calculations in a particular, exactly solvable limit.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202105.0066.v3
Subject: Physical Sciences, Applied Physics Keywords: non-equilibrium quantum thermodynamics; thermodynamics of computing; Landauer's principle; Landauer limit; reversible computing; resource theory of quantum thermodynamics; Gorini-Kossakowski-Sudarshan-Lindblad dynamics; von Neumann entropy; Rényi entropy; open quantum systems
Online: 28 May 2021 (12:13:42 CEST)
The reversible computation paradigm aims to provide a new foundation for general classical digital computing that is capable of circumventing the thermodynamic limits to the energy efficiency of the conventional, non-reversible paradigm. However, to date, the essential rationale for and analysis of classical reversible computing (RC) has not yet been expressed in terms that leverage the modern formal methods of non-equilibrium quantum thermodynamics (NEQT). In this paper, we begin developing an NEQT-based foundation for the physics of reversible computing. We use the framework of Gorini-Kossakowski-Sudarshan-Lindblad dynamics (a.k.a. Lindbladians) with multiple asymptotic states, incorporating recent results from resource theory, full counting statistics, and stochastic thermodynamics. Important conclusions include that, as expected: (1) Landauer's Principle indeed sets a strict lower bound on entropy generation in traditional non-reversible architectures for deterministic computing machines when we account for the loss of correlations; and (2) implementations of the alternative reversible computation paradigm can potentially avoid such losses, and thereby circumvent the Landauer limit, potentially allowing the efficiency of future digital computing technologies to continue improving indefinitely. We also outline a research plan for identifying the fundamental minimum energy dissipation of reversible computing machines as a function of speed.