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Michael Maitland

About Me

My name is Michael, but people usually call me Mike because that's what I tell them to call me.

I obtained my undergraduate Masters degree in Physics (with Astrophysics) at the University of Manchester before joining the DTC in 2011. I completed the Complexity MSc in 2012 and passed my PhD viva in October 2016. I am currently applying for post-doc positions whilst making final corrections to my thesis.

My research interests are Information theory, Statistical mechanics and Philosophy of Science. Of particular interest to me are the thermodynamics of information and the history/philosophy of science.

I am a member of the research group Warwick Interacting Stochastic Particle Systems or 'WISPS', and I was the founder/organiser of the now defunct Philosophy Reading Group in Complexity.

Outside of science and philosophy, my interests are; game design / programming, fencing, cult cinema, amateur astronomy and language learning (currently studying Japanese).

I also have a blog where I write down my philosophical speculations.

If you have any questions to which you think I possess either answers or insights, either send me an email or visit my office.

PhD: Control and feedback in stochastic thermodynamics

Supervisors: Rosemary Harris (QMUL) and Stefan Grosskinsky (Warwick)

In 1867 James Clerk Maxwell proposed a famous thought experiment whereby a sentient agent - called a 'daemon' and described as a "neat-fingered being" - is allowed to manipulate a themal system based on observation of thermodynamic fluctuations. Through a procedure detailed by Maxwell, this being is capable of exploiting the thermal fluctuations to decrease the entropy of the closed system without doing any work on it: a violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

In the past century, much debate has surrounded the rationalisation of this result; from Szilard in 1929, proposing that the act of measurement must itself produce entropy; to Landauer in 1961, highlighting that it is not the measurement but the deleting of information that creates entropy. Many thinkers have realised the importance of information in the understanding of this perceived violation of the 2nd law.

By incorporating information into the thermodynamic framework, the 2nd law can be generalised for cases where some information about a system is being stored/used/deleted to affect the production of entropy in the system. This framework details the information exchange between coupled systems (e.g. a thermal system and a 'daemon') and allows for the description of novel new thermal models such as the 'information heat engine' and 'information refrigerator'.


  • PhD Complexity Science, University of Warwick [2012 - 201?]
    • Control and feedback in stochastic thermodynamics
  • MSc Complexity Science, University of Warwick [2011 - 2012]
    • Collaboration in population dynamics: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
    • Information theoretic descriptions of ecological systems
  • MPhys Physics w/ Astrophysics, University of Manchester [2007 - 2011]
    • Chaotic rotation of Hyperion
    • Simulation of 3-Fold gamma ray spectroscopic data

That's all it is: information. Even an experience or a dream is simultaneous reality and fantasy. Any way you look at it, all the information that a person accumulates in a lifetime is just a drop in the bucket.


Office: D2.09

Email: mikemaitland [at] gmail [dot] com


  • (Paper) Entropy-reducing dynamics of a double demon - I.J. Ford and M. Maitland [arXiv pre-print] (2016)
  • (Paper) Large deviation analysis of a simple information engine - M. Maitland, S. Grosskinsky and R.J. Harris [arXiv pre-print] Phys. Rev. E. 92.5 (2015)
  • (Presentation) Why your mind is not a computer - Complexity Science Annual Retreat, Much Wenlock. May. 11-14. 2015 [Slides](PDF Document)
  • (Poster) Betting with Maxwell's Daemon - Student Conference on Complexity Science, Sussex. Aug. 19-22. 2014. [Poster](PDF Document)
  • (Presentation) Maxwell's Daemon and Information thermodynamics - Student Conference on Complexity Science, Oxford Brooks. Aug. 14-17. 2013. [Slides](PDF Document)
  • (Poster) Fluctuation Relations and Information Thermodynamics: Towards applications in interacting particle systems - STATPHYS25, Seoul, Korea. Jul. 22-26. 2013.
  • (as above) - Frontiers of Statistical Physics and Information Processing 2013, Kyoto, Japan. Jul. 11-14. 2013.
  • (Presentation) Science and Philosophy: Time's Arrow and Maxwell's Daemon - Student Seminar series, Manchester. Apr. 17. 2013.

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen