Quantifying dissipation using fluctuating currents

Junang Li, Jordan M. Horowitz, Todd R. Gingrich*, Nikta Fakhri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Systems coupled to multiple thermodynamic reservoirs can exhibit nonequilibrium dynamics, breaking detailed balance to generate currents. To power these currents, the entropy of the reservoirs increases. The rate of entropy production, or dissipation, is a measure of the statistical irreversibility of the nonequilibrium process. By measuring this irreversibility in several biological systems, recent experiments have detected that particular systems are not in equilibrium. Here we discuss three strategies to replace binary classification (equilibrium versus nonequilibrium) with a quantification of the entropy production rate. To illustrate, we generate time-series data for the evolution of an analytically tractable bead-spring model. Probability currents can be inferred and utilized to indirectly quantify the entropy production rate, but this approach requires prohibitive amounts of data in high-dimensional systems. This curse of dimensionality can be partially mitigated by using the thermodynamic uncertainty relation to bound the entropy production rate using statistical fluctuations in the probability currents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1666
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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