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Beyond Boltzmann-Gibbs-Shannon in Physics and Elsewhere

The pillars of contemporary theoretical physics are classical mechanics, Maxwell electromagnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics, and Boltzmann–Gibbs (BG) statistical mechanics—including its connection with thermodynamics. The BG theory describes amazingly well the thermal equilibrium of a plethora of so-called simple systems. However, BG statistical mechanics and its basic additive entropy SBG started, in recent decades, to exhibit failures or inadequacies in an increasing number of complex systems. The emergence of such intriguing features became apparent in quantum systems as well, such as black holes and other area-law-like scenarios for the von Neumann entropy. In a different arena, the efficiency of the Shannon entropy—as the BG functional is currently called in engineering and communication theory—started to be perceived as not necessarily optimal in the processing of images (e.g., medical ones) and time series (e.g., economic ones). Such is the case in the presence of generic long-range space correlations, long memory, sub-exponential sensitivity to the initial conditions (hence vanishing largest Lyapunov exponents), and similar features. Finally, we witnessed, during the last two decades, an explosion of asymptotically scale-free complex networks.

This wide range of important systems eventually gave support, since 1988, to the generalization of the BG theory. Nonadditive entropies generalizing the BG one and their consequences have been introduced and intensively studied worldwide. The present review focuses on these concepts and their predictions, verifications, and applications in physics and elsewhere. Some selected examples (in quantum information, high- and low-energy physics, low-dimensional nonlinear dynamical systems, earthquakes, turbulence, long-range interacting systems, and scale-free networks) illustrate successful applications. The grounding thermodynamical framework is briefly described as well.


C. Tsallis, Beyond Boltzmann-Gibbs-Shannon in Physics and Elsewhere, Entropy 21(7) (2019) 696



Constantino Tsallis, External Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub, celebrates his 80th birthday

Constantino Tsallis

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