Of dice and men. Subjective priors, gauge invariance, and nonequilibrium thermodynamics

English

Polettini, Matteo[University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC) > Physics and Materials Science Research Unit >]

Jul-2013

Yes

No

International

12th Joint European Thermodynamics Conference, JETC 2013

July 1-5, 2013

University of Brescia

Brescia

Italy

[en] "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" wrote Ren\'e Magritte on what was only the representation of a pipe. Phenomena and their physical descriptions differ, and in particular the laws ruling the former might enjoy symmetries that have to be spent to attain the latter. So, inertial frames are necessary to draw numbers out of Newtonian mechanics and confront with experiment, but ultimately the laws of mechanics are independent of reference frames. Generalizing work done in Ref. [M. Polettini, EPL 97 (2012) 30003] to continuous systems, we discuss from a foundational point of view how subjectivity in the choice of reference prior probability is a (gauge) symmetry of thermodynamics. In particular, a change of priors corresponds to a change of coordinates. Employing an approach based on the stochastic thermodynamics of continuous state-space diffusion processes, we discuss the difference between thermostatic and thermodynamic observables and show that, while the quantification of entropy depends on priors, the second law of thermodynamics is formulated in terms of invariant quantities, in particular the curvature of the thermodynamic force (gauge potential), which we calculate in a few examples of processes led by different nonequilibrium mechanisms.