Thermodynamics of complexity and pattern manipulation
Garner, Andrew J. P.
Date of Issue2017
School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
Many organisms capitalize on their ability to predict the environment to maximize available free energy and reinvest this energy to create new complex structures. This functionality relies on the manipulation of patterns—temporally ordered sequences of data. Here, we propose a framework to describe pattern manipulators—devices that convert thermodynamic work to patterns or vice versa—and use them to build a “pattern engine” that facilitates a thermodynamic cycle of pattern creation and consumption. We show that the least heat dissipation is achieved by the provably simplest devices, the ones that exhibit desired operational behavior while maintaining the least internal memory. We derive the ultimate limits of this heat dissipation and show that it is generally nonzero and connected with the pattern's intrinsic crypticity—a complexity theoretic quantity that captures the puzzling difference between the amount of information the pattern's past behavior reveals about its future and the amount one needs to communicate about this past to optimally predict the future.
Physical Review E
© 2017 American Physical Society (APS). This paper was published in Physical Review E and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of American Physical Society (APS). The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.95.042140]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.