I read about Landauer's principle and was wondering about the implications from it's original derivation. Landauer derived his principle straight foward from the second law, but I see people favoring derivations by Shizume or Piechocinska, who derive it without direct reference to the second law from the microscopic set-up.

I wonder why their derivation holds stronger than the one derived directly from the second law. Is it just circular reasoning to use the second law, which is subject of discussion, to prove the principle or may there be an even more subtle reason?

  • $\begingroup$ May it be because the second law is a macroscopic law and it is not very meaningful to apply it to microscopic systems? $\endgroup$ – valerio Jan 31 '18 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your comment, the idea sounds reasonalbe :) $\endgroup$ – Peter Sanctus Feb 20 '18 at 12:35

Both of their arguments makes assumptions about the systems used to encode information. This generally makes the argument stronger; less vulnerable to criticism. But demonstrating Landauer's principle for a specific system does of course not prove the principle in the general case. When trying to demonstrate the principle without any assumptions about the physical systems, generally you need to fall back on general principles such as the Second law of Thermodynamics.


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