Entropy and Telecommunications Systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The concept of entropy which first arose in the determination of the maximum efficiency attainable by heat engines in the early 19th century has turned out to have ramifications that extend far beyond its original domain of application. It is no exaggeration to claim that nearly every branch of science, engineering, and even the social sciences has been touched by entropy. Entropy has also enriched the field of Statistics where it has augmented traditional estimation methods such as least squares and maximum likelihood by a new methodology called the Maximum Entropy approach. While energy conservation is a fundamental law in Physics, it is not sufficient on its own to predict whether a physical process can occur spontaneously in nature, for there are many processes that would be permitted because they do not violate conservation of energy, but which cannot spontaneously occur in nature. It is entropy that distinguishes between processes that can occur spontaneously in nature and those that cannot. Such processes can indeed occur, but not spontaneously - they require a flow of energy into the system to make them happen. The astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington considered entropy to be such a basic physical idea that he made the following frequently cited statement [1]: “If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations-then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well those experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics, I can offer you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere114
JournalJournal of Telecommunications System and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


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