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Does anybody know of any work that links Theoretical Computer Science and Cheap/Sustainable Energy? i.e is there any work in TCS with the application being in Cheap/Sustainable Energy.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure I understand. What do you mean by "Energy"? Energy-efficient computing? Cheap/sustainable energy generation? $\endgroup$ – Sasho Nikolov Aug 10 '12 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ J. Zico Kolter has has done nice work applying machine learning techniques to a number of different problems in renewable energy and energy conservation: cs.cmu.edu/~zkolter/publications.html Of course (1) this isn't really theory and (2) like Sasho I'm not sure what you meant by "energy". Hopefully his work will be interesting nevertheless. $\endgroup$ – Huck Bennett Aug 11 '12 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also check Steve Easterbrook's page (though he is not a theorist). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 11 '12 at 23:15
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Kirk Pruhs is a leader in the area of "green computing", the study of algorithms that treat energy as an expensive resource. Take a look at these slides and this survey by Sandy Irani and Pruhs.

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I'm sure there are quite a few, but here's one. The "standard" book on Kolmogorov complexity by Li & Vitanyi has a chapter on physics, information and computation. The part dealing with energy goes back to the likes of von Neumann and Landauer.

The book looks at energy dissipation from the TCS point of view. Basically, advances in the miniaturization and mobilization of devices will at some point require almost dissipationless computing. It seems that there are no physical laws that require reversible computation to dissipate energy. The book looks briefly at some physical implementations of reversible computers that are theoretically possible. There's also a logical model: the reversible Turing machine.

In addition to Li & Vitanyi, you can take a look at [1] and [2]. You might also be interested in the question Is there an abstract machine that can capture power consumption? on CS.SE.


[1] R. Landauer. Irreversibility and heat generation in the computing process. IBM J. Res. Develop., 5:183–191, 1961.

[2] C.H. Bennett and R. Landauer. The fundamental physical limits of computation. Scientific American, 256(7):48–56, July 1985.

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