Information as Thermodynamic Fuel

Information as Thermodynamic Fuel

• Physics 15, s133

A “filtering” algorithm permits info engines to carry out effectively even when they’re subjected to excessive noise.

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Tushar Okay. Saha/Simon Fraser University

An info engine makes use of info to transform warmth into helpful power. Such an engine might be made, for instance, from a heavy bead in an optical entice. A bead engine operates utilizing thermal noise. When noise fluctuations increase the bead vertically, the entice can also be lifted. This change will increase the common peak of the bead, and the engine produces power. No work is completed to trigger this transformation; quite, the potential power is extracted from info. However, measurement noise—whose origin is intrinsic to the system probing the bead’s place—can degrade the engine’s effectivity, as it might probably add uncertainty to the measurement, which may result in incorrect suggestions choices by the algorithm that operates the engine. Now Tushar Saha and colleagues at Simon Fraser University in Canada have developed an algorithm that doesn’t endure from these errors, permitting for environment friendly operation of an info engine even when there’s excessive measurement noise [1].

To date, most info engines have operated utilizing suggestions algorithms that think about solely the newest bead-position commentary. In such a system, when the engine’s signal-to-noise ratio falls beneath a sure worth, the engine stops working.

To overcome this drawback, Saha and colleagues as an alternative use a “filtering” algorithm that replaces the newest bead measurement with a so-called Bayesian estimate. This estimate accounts for each measurement noise and delay within the gadget’s suggestions.

The crew reveals that they will use their algorithm to run an info engine when the signal-to-noise ratio is low. However, as a result of the Bayesian estimate is calculated utilizing all previous measurements on the engine, this algorithm requires extra storage capability than others. Thus, as in lots of scientific issues involving measurements, a trade-off emerges, on this case between reminiscence price and power extraction.

–Agnese Curatolo

Agnese Curatolo is an Associate Editor at Physical Review Letters.


  1. T. Okay. Saha et al., “Bayesian information engine that optimally exploits noisy measurements,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 130601 (2022).

Subject Areas

Statistical PhysicsNonlinear Dynamics

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