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Thermodynamics and Garbage Collection
 In ACM Sigplan Notices
, 1994
"... INTRODUCTION Computer scientists should have a knowledge of abstract statistical thermodynamics. First, computer systems are dynamical systems, much like physical systems, and therefore an important first step in their characterization is in finding properties and parameters that are constant over ..."
Abstract

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INTRODUCTION Computer scientists should have a knowledge of abstract statistical thermodynamics. First, computer systems are dynamical systems, much like physical systems, and therefore an important first step in their characterization is in finding properties and parameters that are constant over time (i.e., constants of motion). Second, statistical thermodynamics successfully reduces macroscopic properties of a system to the statistical behavior of large numbers of microscopic processes. As computer systems become large assemblages of small components, an explanation of their macroscopic behavior may also be obtained as the aggregate statistical behavior of its component parts. If not, the elegance of the statistical thermodynamical approach can at least provide inspiration for new classes of models. 1 Third, the components of computer systems are approaching the same size as the microscopic pr