Inferring dissipation from current fluctuations

Todd Gingrich, Grant M. Rotskoff, Jordan M. Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Complex physical dynamics can often be modeled as a Markov jump process between mesoscopic configurations. When jumps between mesoscopic states are mediated by thermodynamic reservoirs, the time-irreversibility of the jump process is a measure of the physical dissipation. We rederive a recently introduced inequality relating the dissipation rate to current fluctuations in jump processes. We then adapt these results to diffusion processes via a limiting procedure, reaffirming that diffusions saturate the inequality. Finally, we study the impact of spatial coarse-graining in a two-dimensional model with driven diffusion. By observing fluctuations in coarse-grained currents, it is possible to infer a lower bound on the total dissipation rate, including the dissipation associated with hidden dynamics. The tightness of this bound depends on how well the spatial coarse-graining detects dynamical events that are driven by large thermodynamic forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184004
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 5 2017


  • coarse graining
  • entropy production
  • large deviation theory
  • nonequilibrium fluctuations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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