Landauer's Principle

In a real-world computational system, bits are actual entities associated with packets of energy.  Landauer’s principal identifies the minimum entropy cost of removing or transferring a bit in a reversible computation, as kBln2T Joules. Here T is the temperature of the real-world, or laboratory computational device. Erasure occurs where bits are passed to the environment and, if reversibility is lost, the algorithmic entropy of the environment increases by more than kBln2, as the instruction bits needed to ensure reversibility dissipate as heat.  From Landauer’s principal, the net change in the thermodynamic entropy of a system, allowing for units, is identical to the net bit flows through the system.  Landauer argues that both logical and thermodynamic irreversibility requires the loss of information as bits.  In the case of a laboratory UTM, the input and the output are the initial configuration and final configuration of bits stored within the computer at the start and finish of the computation.  In a typical laboratory computation reversibility is usually lost, because energy, as heat, is passed to degrees of freedom not considered part of the output.  Effectively the difference in algorithmic entropy between two states is about the transfer of bits of information, whereas the thermodynamic entropy is about the transfer of heat energy from a system at a given temperature.

It can be argued from Shannon’s information theory that, for a bit to be recognisable as a signal above the thermal noise at the operating temperature T, the bit must carry kBln2TJoules.  Usually, however, Landauer’s principle is justified by arguments relying on the equipartition principle. However, Devine, Entropy 2021  has shown that Landauer’s principle is more fundamental, arising directly from Stirling’s Approximation and the definition of temperature in terms of the derivative of entropy. In other words, the principle holds generally, except when the system approaches absolute zero.  As a consequence, the algorithmic entropy of the momentum states can be unequivocally and consistently identified with the thermodynamic entropy except near absolute zero.

The Landauer principle at the quantum limit. While Landauer’s principle seems to be widely applicable, until recently it was not clear how effective it is in the quantum regime. Yan et al. 2018, by employing an ultra-cold trapped ion, showed the quantum version of Landauer’s principle is consistent with the theoretical approach of Reeb and Wolf 2014. The quantum version is the thermodynamic cost of reducing the von Neumann entropy by one bit. This leads to the following equality.

∆Q/kBT = ∆S + I(S ′:R′) + D(ρ ′R||ρR).

H(R) is the Hamiltonian specifying the states of the reservoir, R, while ∆Q is the average increase of the thermal energy in the reservoir. ∆S is the decrease of the von Neuman entropy of the trapped ion when a bit is erased. In that context ρ is the operator in the von Neumann density matrix.  As discussed, when all bits are tracked, Landauer’s principle becomes an equality. But the above equation has a term I(S ′:R′).  This is the mutual information in bits between the system S ′, and the reservoir R′ and corresponds to H(g t) bits, the bits in the residual program or history in equation  that increase the entropy when reversibility is lost (Landauer).  The second term, D(ρ ′R||ρR),, which is the relative entropy before and after the erasure given ρ ′ and ρ, will be zero with an appropriate definition of heat, as argued by Bera et al. 2017.  From the perspective here, these bits are potential entropy only, and do not align with the realized entropy in the momentum degrees of freedom.

I.e. provided the momentum states are thermalised, the algorithmic approach is consistent with the quantum mechanical approach.

Uncertainty due to phase space graining The instantaneous microstate of a natural system can be represented by a point in the multidimensional state space of the system that defines the position, momentum, binding states and electronic states of all the species in the system.  Key is how to specify the  position and momentum coordinates of each species along the x, y, z axes, i.e. in the phase space of the system, see Entropy 2021

At the fundamental level, as the computational bits are discrete, discreteness is built into the algorithmic universe and translational symmetry is restricted to increments of the minimum sized cell in position-space. Let the fundamental unit of length δx = a along the x direction be fine enough to ensure position coordinates can be captured by a binary string. In which case, allowable translations in the x direction that shift one configuration to another must be integral multiples of a given by Na where N is any integer.  The Fourier transform of the position vector is wave number kx, in reciprocal space.  In this space, the fundamental unit of length  δ kx space is 1/a.  The minimum area of a cell in the position momentum space and δxδkx=1. This is in effect an uncertainty principle, a fundamental property of the algorithmic universe, as increasing resolution in the x space decreases the allowable resolution in the reciprocal space.  As the momentum in the x direction, p x, is also invariant under translational symmetry, both px and kx are constants of the motion, implying that px = h kx, and   δxδpx = h. It is plausible to take h as Plank’s constant, as this determines the minimum resolution of a position-momentum space.

In other words, the uncertainty implicit in the algorithmic computations is consistent with quantum mechanics.