Maxwell's Demon 2 Entropy, Classical and Quantum Information, Computing: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Maxwell's Demon 2 Entropy, Classical and Quantum Information, Computing

1st Edition

Edited by Harvey Leff, Andrew F. Rex

CRC Press

502 pages

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Over 130 years ago, James Clerk Maxwell introduced his hypothetical "demon" as a challenge to the scope of the second law of thermodynamics. Fascination with the demon persisted throughout the development of statistical and quantum physics, information theory, and computer science, and links have been established between Maxwell's demon and each of these disciplines. The demon's seductive quality makes it appealing to physical scientists, engineers, computer scientists, biologists, psychologists, and historians and philosophers of science.

Since the publication of Maxwell's Demon: Entropy, Information, Computing in 1990, Maxwell's demon has been the subject of renewed and increased interest by numerous researchers in the fields mentioned above. Updated and expanded, Maxwell's Demon 2: Entropy, Classical and Quantum Information, Computing retains many of the seminal papers that appeared in the first edition, including the original thoughts of James Clerk Maxwell and William Thomson; a historical review by Martin Klein; and key articles by Leo Szilard, Leon Brillouin, Rolf Landauer, and Charles Bennett that led to new branches of research on the demon. This second edition contains newer articles by Landauer, Bennett, and others, related to Landauer's principle; connections with quantum mechanics; algorithmic information; and the thermodynamics and limits of computation. The book also includes two separate bibliographies: an alphabetical listing by author and a chronological bibliography that is annotated by the editors and contains selected quotes from the books and articles listed. The bibliography has more than doubled in size since publication of the first edition and now contains over 570 entries.


"MD2 is an excellent presentation of the dominant approach to the Demon in recent years. It is the second, greatly revised, edition of a collection that appeared in 1990 (hereafter MD1) and contributed significantly to the Demon's recent popularity. Let me conclude by highly recommending MD2 as an introduction to mainstream Demonology: its introduction is a very good outline of this approach, the reprinted articles are among the most influential in their fields, and the comprehensive annotated bibliography is a tool without which-since MD1 came out in 1990-work in the field can hardly be imagined."

-Orly R. Shenker, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Volume 35, Issue 3

Table of Contents



The Demon and Its Properties.

Szilard's Model: Entropy and Information Acquisition

Information Acquisition via Light Signals: A Temporary Resolution

Computers and Erasure of Information: A New Resolution

Other Aspects of Maxwell's Demon


Thomson, W. (1874): The kinetic theory of the dissipation of energy

Daub, E.E. (1970) Maxwell's demon

Klein, M.J. (1970): Maxwell, his demon, and the second law of thermodynamics

Brillouin, L. (1949): Life, thermodynamics, and cybernetics

Rothstein, J. (1951): Information, measurement, and quantum mechanics


Skordos, P.A., and Zurek, W.H. (1992): Maxwell's demon, rectifiers, and the second law: Computer simulation of Smoluchowski's trapdoor

Rex, A.F., and Larsen, R. (1992): Entropy and information for an automated Maxwell's demon

Szilard, L. (1929): On the decrease of entropy in a thermodynamic system by the intervention of intelligent beings

Brillouin, L. (1951): Maxwell's demon cannot operate: Information and entropy I

Jauch, J.M. & Byron, J.G. (1972): Entropy, information and Szilard's paradox

Costa de Beauregard, O. & Tribus, M. (1974): Information theory and thermodynamics


Landauer, R. (1961): Irreversibility and heat generation in the computing process

Leff, H.S. and Rex, A.F. (1994): Entropy of measurement and erasure: Szilard's membrane model revisited

Shizume, K (1995): Heat generation required by erasure

Piechocinska, B (2000): Information erasure


Zurek, W.H. (1984): Maxwell's demon, Szilard's engine and quantum measurements

Lubkin, E. (1987): Keeping the entropy of measurement: Szilard revisited

Lloyd, S. (1989): Use of mutual information to decrease entropy: Implications for the second law of thermodynamics

Lloyd, S. (1997): Quantum-mechanical Maxwell's demon

Vedral, V. (2000): Landauer's erasure, error correction and entanglement.


Caves, C.M. (1993): Information and entropy

Schack, R. (1997): Algorithmic information and simplicity in statistical physics

Zurek, W.H. (1999): Algorithmic randomness, physical entropy, measurements, and the demon of choice


Bennett, C.H. (1982): The thermodynamics of computation: a review

Landauer, R. (1987): Computation: A fundamental physical view

Bennett, C. H. (1988): Notes on the history of reversible computation

Landauer, R. (1996): The physical nature of information

Landauer, R. (1996): Minimal energy requirements in communication

Bennett, C.H. (1998): Information physics in cartoons

Gershenfeld, N. (1996): Signal entropy and the thermodynamics of computation

Lloyd, S. (2000): Ultimate physical limits to computation

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Physics