Rolf Landauer

name = Rolf Landauer

caption = Rolf William Landauer
birth_date = February 4, 1927
birth_place = Stuttgart, Germany
residence = U.S.
nationality = American
death_date = April 27, 1999
death_place = Briarcliff Manor, New York, U.S.
field = Physicist
work_institution = National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
alma_mater = Harvard
doctoral_advisor = Léon Brillouin and Wendell Furry
doctoral_students = None
known_for = Landauer's principle, The Landauer picture of quantum transport
prizes = Oliver E. Buckley Prize (1995)
Edison Medal (1998)
religion =
footnotes =

Rolf Landauer (1927–1999) was an IBM physicist who in 1961 demonstrated that when information is lost in an irreversible circuit, the information becomes entropy and an associated amount of energy is dissipated as heat. This principle is relevant to reversible computing, quantum information and quantum computing.

Landauer was born on February 4, 1927, in Stuttgart, Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution of Jews, graduated in 1943 from Stuyvesant High School, [cite news |url= |title=Rolf Landauer, Pioneer in Computer Theory, Dies at 72 |first=George |last=Johnson |date=1999-04-30 |publisher=New York Times |accessdate=2007-10-31] one of New York City's mathematics and science magnet schools, and obtained his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1945. Following service in the US Navy as an electrician's mate, he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1950.

He first worked for two years at NASA, then known as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and at the age of 25 began a career in semiconductors at IBM. As part of the two-man team responsible for managing IBM's Research Division in the mid-1960s, he was involved in a number of programs, including the company's work on semiconductor lasers. In 1969, he was appointed an IBM Fellow.

Much of his research after 1969 related to the kinetics of small structures. He showed that in systems with two or more competing states of local stability, their likelihood depends on noise all along the path connecting them. In electron transport theory, he is particularly associated with the idea, taken from circuit theory, that electric flow can be considered a consequence of current sources as well as applied fields. He also pioneered in the area of information handling. His principles have been applied to computers and to the measurement process and are the basis for Landauer's own demonstration that communication, in principle, can be done without minimal unavoidable energy use.

Awards and Honors

*member, National Academy of Engineering
*member, National Academy of Sciences
*member, European Academy of Sciences and Arts
*Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
*honorary doctorate, Technion in Israel
*1991 Scott Lecturer at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University
*1992 Stuart Ballantine Medal of the Franklin Institute
*Centennial Medal by Harvard in 1993,
*Oliver E. Buckley Prize by the American Physical Society (1995)
* Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton (LVMH) Science for Art Prize (1997)
*IEEE Edison Medal (1998) "For pioneering contributions to the physics of computing and conduction."

The range of his work has been recognized in special issues of two journals, 10 years apart. They are the IBM Journal of Research and Development (January 1988) and the Superlattices and Microstructures (March/April 1998).

Dr. Landauer died on 27 April 1999 at his home in Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA from brain cancer.

External links

* [ The 'Landauer' formula]

* [ Web page at IEEE]
* [ Stuyvesant math team]
* [ PhysicsWeb Obituary]
* [ Nature Obituary]


* Perry, R. T. (2004). "The temple of quantum computing". p. 26 – 27. Retrieved 11 January 2005 with

NAME= Landauer, Rolf
SHORT DESCRIPTION= American -German physicist, engineer
DATE OF BIRTH= February 4, 1927
PLACE OF BIRTH= Stuttgart, Germany
DATE OF DEATH= April 27, 1999
PLACE OF DEATH= Briarcliff Manor, New York, U.S.

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