On the relation between thermodynamic work extraction and distinguishability

Author: Chiara Marletto
Date: 9 September 2020
Affiliations: Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford // Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore // ISI Foundation, Turin


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.