Rolf Landauer

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In existographies, Rolf Landauer (28 BE-44 AE) (1927-1999 ACM) (CR:3) was an German-born American physicist, computer scientist, and informationist, noted for []


In 1961, Rolf Landauer, in his ‘Irreversibility and Heat Generation in the Computing Process’ article, proposed that there is an unavoidable cost in entropy whenever one erases information, namely that the entropy of the surroundings must increase by at least per each bit of information erased.[1]

In his own words, the ‘measurement process requires a dissipation of the order of .’ Landauer’s derivation, of course, is a haphazard form argument, using the recourse to authority method — he specifically cites ‘Brillouin (1956) and earlier authors’ — in an attempt to argue, in short, that work a single ideal gas molecule does in expanding a piston-and-cylinder to twice its volume is somehow ‘miraculously’ related to the entropy involved in the storage, removal, and or transfer of the state of a binary digit in a vacuum tube and or quantum mechanical energy well of a transistor.[2]


Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Landauer:

Information is physical.”
— Rolf Landauer (1991), “Information is Physical”[3]; cited by Seth Lloyd (2006) in Programming the Universe (pg. 213)

End matter


  1. Landauer, Ralph. (1961). “Irreversibility and Heat Generation in the Computing Process” (abs) (pdf), IBM Journal of Research and Development, 5(3), Jul.
  2. Thims, Libb. (2012). “Thermodynamics ≠ Information Theory: Science’s Greatest Sokal Affair” (pdf) (annotated review: pdf, by Robert Doyle, 2020), Journal of Human Thermodynamics (Ѻ), 8(1): 1-120, Dec 19.
  3. (a) Landauer, Rolf. (1991). “Information is Physical” (pdf), Physics Today, 44:23-29.
    (b) Landauer, Rolf. (1996). “The Physical Nature of Information” (abs) (pdf), Physics Letters A, 217:188-93.

Further reading

  • Landauer, Rolf. (1986). “Computation and Physics: Wheeler’s Meaning Circuit” (abs), Foundations of Physics, 16(2):551-64.

External links

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