On the relation between thermodynamic work extraction and distinguishability

  • Authors:

    Chiara Marletto

  • Journal:


  • Date:

    9 September 2020

  • DOI:


  • Affiliations:

    Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford // Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore // ISI Foundation, Turin

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Assuming general principles of information theory, I show that the possibility of extracting work deterministically from a set of attributes implies that they must all be distinguishable from one another. This theorem provides an additional connection between thermodynamics and information theory, which is scale- and dynamics-independent, and goes via the law of conservation of energy. I also comment on its implications for the theory of von Neumann’s universal constructor.

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