Gregory W. Wimsatt, Alexander B. Boyd, and James P. Crutchfield
The Trajectory Class Fluctuation Theorem (TCFT) substantially
strengthens the Second Law of Thermodynamics—that, in point
of fact, can be a rather weak bound on resource fluxes.
Practically, it improves empirical estimates of free energies, a
task known to be statistically challenging, and has diagnosed
successful and failed information processing in
experimentally-implemented Josephson-junction information engines.
The development here justifies that empirical analysis,
explicating its mathematical foundations.
The TCFT reveals the thermodynamics induced by macroscopic system transformations for each measurable subset of system trajectories. In this, it directly combats the statistical challenge of extremely rare events that dominate thermodynamic calculations. And, it reveals new forms of free energy—forms that can be solved for analytically and practically estimated. Conceptually, the TCFT unifies a host of previously-established fluctuation theorems, interpolating from Crooks' Detailed Fluctuation Theorem (single trajectories) to Jarzynski's Equality (trajectory ensembles).