Thermodynamics of Computation     

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Thermodynamics of Computation - overview


Physics Accomplishment | 1981-1982

IBM researcher: Charles Bennett

Where the work was done: IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

What we accomplished: Paraphrasing Bennett's paper abstract: "Computers may be thought of as engines for transforming free energy into waste heat and mathematical work. Converse to the rule that logically irreversible operations on data require an entropy increase elsewhere in the computer is the fact that a tape full of zeros, or one containing some pseudorandom sequence such as pi, has fuel value and can be made to do useful thermodynamic work as it randomizes itself. A tape containing an algorithmically random sequence lacks this ability."(Charles Bennett, pictured.)

Related links: The Thermodynamics of Computation - a Review, 1982 Journal of Theoretical Physics Paper.

Image credit: Institute for Quantum Computing

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