Thermodynamics and computation during collective motion near criticality

Emanuele Crosato, Richard E. Spinney, Ramil Nigmatullin, Joseph T. Lizier, Mikhail Prokopenko

We study self-organisation of collective motion as a thermodynamic phenomenon, in the context of the first law of thermodynamics. It is expected that the coherent ordered motion typically self-organises in the presence of changes in the (generalised) internal energy and of (generalised) work done on, or extracted from, the system. We aim to explicitly quantify changes in these two quantities in a system of simulated self-propelled particles, and contrast them with changes in the system's configuration entropy. In doing so, we adapt a thermodynamic formulation of the curvatures of the internal energy and the work, with respect to two parameters that control the particles' alignment. This allows us to systematically investigate the behaviour of the system by varying the two control parameters to drive the system across a kinetic phase transition. Our results identify critical regimes and show that during the phase transition, where the configuration entropy of the system decreases, the rates of change of the work and of the internal energy also decrease, while their curvatures diverge. Importantly, the reduction of entropy achieved through expenditure of work is shown to peak at criticality. We relate this both to a thermodynamic efficiency and the significance of the increased order with respect to a computational path. Additionally, this study provides an information-geometric interpretation of the curvature of the internal energy as the difference between two curvatures: the curvature of the free entropy, captured by the Fisher information, and the curvature of the configuration entropy.

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