Quantum Information and Foundations of Thermodynamics



Workshop: ETH Zurich, 9th-12th August 2011

The idea of studying thermodynamics from the viewpoint of information theory has  always attracted considerable attention. An early example is the paradox of Maxwell's demon, which, as pointed out by Szilard and Bennett, can be related to information principles.

Now, a new generation of researchers is committed to use quantum information theory  to explore the foundations of thermodynamics. This approach has proved to be very fruitful: just in the past three years, several research groups showed that heat  engines can be as small as two qubits, that equipartition and thermalization follow  from simple properties of quantum systems, and that one may control  thermodynamic systems with devices that make use of quantum information,  obtaining a direct correspondence between theoretical concepts from quantum  information, like conditional entropies, and thermodynamic quantities such as work and heat.

We gathered approximately fifty researchers in a four-day meeting in Zurich to share knowledge and discuss future directions for the field, on topics such as thermalization, heat engines, entropy measures in thermodynamics, the information-work relation, and thermodynamics of small systems.

Videos of the talks

List of references in the field

Group photo



Renato Renner (ETH Zurich)

Tony Short (University of Cambridge)

Johan Åberg (ETH Zurich)

Lídia del Rio (ETH Zurich)


If you wish to participate, please email Lídia del Rio with your dates of attendance.


We are pleased to receive support from the Pauli Center for Theoretical Studies.