The Physical Nature of Information

Information is inevitably tied to a physical representation and therefore to restrictions and possibilities related to the laws of physics and the parts available in the universe. Quantum mechanical superpositions of informatin bearing states can be used, and the real utility of that needs to be understood. Quantum parallelism in computation is one possibility and will be assessed pessimistically. The energy dissipation requirements of computation, of measurement and of the communications link are discussed. The insights gained from the analysis of computation has caused a reappraisal of the perceived wisdom in the other two fields. A concluding section speculates about the nature of the laws of physics, which are algorithms for the handling of information, and must be executable in our real physical universe.

By: Rolf Landauer

Published in: Physics Letters A, volume 217, (no 4-5), pages 188-93 in 1996

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