Time-information uncertainty relations in thermodynamics

TitleTime-information uncertainty relations in thermodynamics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsNicholson, SB, García-Pintos, LPedro, del Campo, A, Green, JR
JournalNat. Phys.
Date Published09/21/2020

Physical systems that power motion and create structure in a fixed amount of time dissipate energy and produce entropy. Whether living or synthetic, systems performing these dynamic functions must balance dissipation and speed. Here, we show that rates of energy and entropy exchange are subject to a speed limit -- a time-information uncertainty relation -- imposed by the rates of change in the information content of the system. This uncertainty relation bounds the time that elapses before the change in a thermodynamic quantity has the same magnitude as its initial standard deviation. From this general bound, we establish a family of speed limits for heat, work, entropy production, and entropy flow depending on the experimental constraints on the system. In all of these inequalities, the time scale of transient dynamical fluctuations is universally bounded by the Fisher information. Moreover, they all have a mathematical form that mirrors the Mandelstam-Tamm version of the time-energy uncertainty relation in quantum mechanics. These bounds on the speed of arbitrary observables apply to transient systems away from thermodynamic equilibrium, independent of the physical assumptions about the stochastic dynamics or their function.