Edwin Jaynes nsIn existographies, Edwin Jaynes (1922-1998) (CR:40) was an American physicist noted, in information thermodynamics, for his maximum entropy (MaxEnt) interpretation of thermodynamics, as found in his two part 1957 paper “Information Theory and Statistical Thermodynamics”, in which he attempted to derive a statistical thermodynamics interpretation of information theory. [1] Jaynes’ approach, in terms of schools of thermodynamics, soon came to be known as the MaxEnt school of thermodynamics also sometimes called the Jaynes school. Into the 2000s, Jaynes' MaxEnt formulation of nonequilibrium statistical thermodynamics, however, has generally failed to be accepted by the majority of scientists. [2] In about 1965, Jaynes wrote the outline of a thermodynamics textbook, that was never published. [4]

Jayne's paper was of considerable influence to American engineer Myron Tribus who had spent the previous ten years attempting a similar derivation that when in 1948 he was told about Jaynes' paper he took an overnight train from LA to Stanford to visit Jaynes in his office. [5]

Economic thermodynamics
In 1991, Jaynes initiated a foray into economic thermodynamics with his article “How Should we Use Entropy in Economics: Some Half-baked Ideas in Need of Criticism”, the subtitle a pun on Paul Samuelson’s 1972 “half-baked” comment, in which is he introduces some tentative outlines of how an economic system can be modeled as a thermodynamic system, such as how Willard Gibbs' 1873 graphical thermodynamic ideas on entropy convexity can be mixed with logarithmic interpretations of economic entropy, which he defines as follows:

Economic entropy (Jaynes) n

where (X,Y,Z ...) are some type of macroeconomic variables, which he doesn't really go into, and W is the multiplicity factor of the macroeconomic state, which he describes as the "number of different microeconomic ways in which it can be realized", whatever that means, and tries to connected in some way to French mathematician Rene Thom’s 1960s catastrophe theory and the thermodynamics of a ferromagnet and Curie temperature. [6]

Jaynes received his BA in physics from the University of Iowa in 1942 and PhD on ferroelectricity at Princeton in 1950 under the direction of Eugene Wigner. [3]

1. (a) Jaynes, E. T. (1957) “Information theory and statistical mechanics”, (PDF), Physical Review 106:620.
(b) Jaynes, E. T. (1957) “Information theory and statistical mechanics II”, (PDF), Physical Review 108:171.
2. Kleidon, Axel and Lorenz, Ralph D. (2004). Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics and the Production of Entropy: Life, Earth, and Beyond (pg. 42-43). Springer.
3. Edwin T. Jaynes, 1922-1998 – Obituary, Washington University Libraries.
4. Jaynes, Edwin T. (c.1965). Thermodynamics, (ch. I: Development of Thermodynamics, 49-pgs, ch. II: Use of Jacobians in Thermodynamics, 17-pgs, ch. V: Gibbs Formalism: Physical Derivation, 30-pgs). Unpublished Book, 9+ chapters.
5. Tribus, M. (1998). “A Tribute to Edwin T. Jaynes”. In Maximum Entropy and Bayesian Methods, Garching, Germany 1998: Proceedings of the 18th International Workshop on Maximum Entropy and Bayesian Methods of Statistical Analysis (pgs. 11-20) by Wolfgang von der Linde, Volker Dose, Rainer Fischer, and Roland Preuss. 1999. Springer.
6. Jaynes, Edwin. (1991). “How Should we Use Entropy in Economics: Some Half-baked Ideas in Need of Criticism”, Feb 01.

Further reading
● Jaynes, E.T. (1965). "Gibbs vs Boltzmann entropies." American Journal of Physics, 33: 391-8.
● Jaynes, E.T. (1988). “The Evolution of Carnot’s Principle”, in Maximum-Entropy and Bayesian Methods in Science and Engineering, 1, G.J. Erickson and C.R. Smith (eds.) Kluwer, Dordrecht.

External links
Edwin Thompson Jaynes – Wikipedia.
Edwin T. Jaynes (1922-1998) – Washington University Libraries.

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