Work, Entropy Production, and Thermodynamics of Information under Protocol Constraints

Artemy Kolchinsky and David H. Wolpert
Phys. Rev. X 11, 041024

In many real-world situations, there are constraints on the ways in which a physical system can be manipulated. We investigate the entropy production (EP) and extractable work involved in bringing a system from some initial distribution p to some final distribution p, given that the set of master equations available to the driving protocol obeys some constraints. We first derive general bounds on EP and extractable work, as well as a decomposition of the nonequilibrium free energy into an “accessible free energy” (which can be extracted as work, given a set of constraints) and an “inaccessible free energy” (which must be dissipated as EP). In a similar vein, we consider the thermodynamics of information in the presence of constraints and decompose the information acquired in a measurement into “accessible” and “inaccessible” components. This decomposition allows us to consider the thermodynamic efficiency of different measurements of the same system, given a set of constraints. We use our framework to analyze protocols subject to symmetry, modularity, and coarse-grained constraints and consider various examples including the Szilard box, the 2D Ising model, and a multiparticle flashing ratchet.

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