Non-equilibrium and information: the role of cross-correlations

Andrea Crisanti 1, Andrea Puglisi 2, Dario Villamaina 3

Physical Review E 85 (2012) 061127

We discuss the relevance of information contained in cross-correlations among different degrees of freedom, which is crucial in non-equilibrium systems. In particular we consider a stochastic system where two degrees of freedom $X_1$ and $X_2$ – in contact with two different thermostats – are coupled together. The production of entropy and the violation of equilibrium fluctuation-dissipation theorem (FDT) are both related to the cross-correlation between $X_1$ and $X_2$. Information about such cross-correlation may be lost when single-variable reduced models, for $X_1$, are considered. Two different procedures are typically applied: (a) one totally ignores the coupling with $X_2$; (b) one models the effect of $X_2$ as an average memory effect, obtaining a generalized Langevin equation. In case (a) discrepancies between the system and the model appear both in entropy production and linear response; the latter can be exploited to define effective temperatures, but those are meaningful only when time-scales are well separated. In case (b) linear response of the model well reproduces that of the system; however the loss of information is reflected in a loss of entropy production. When only linear forces are present, such a reduction is dramatic and makes the average entropy production vanish, posing problems in interpreting FDT violations.

  • 1. Sapienza,
  • 2. Dipartimento di Fisica (DF-LS),
    Università degli studi di Roma I – La Sapienza
  • 3. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI – Paris Sud
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