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The physics of forgetting: Landauer's erasure principle and information theory

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This article discusses the concept of information and its intimate relationship with physics. After an introduction of all the necessary quantum mechanical and information theoretical concepts we analyse Landauer's principle which states that the erasure of information is inevitably accompanied by the generation of heat. We employ this principle to rederive a number of results in classical and quantum information theory whose rigorous mathematical derivations are difficult. This demonstrates the usefulness of Landauer's principle and provides an introduction to the physical theory of information.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Optics Section, The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London SW7 2BW, UK

Publication date: 01 January 2001

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