(115 words)
  • Editors

Historical Context Note

Originated by Rudolf Clausius, the German pioneer of Thermodynamics, in 1850, entropy is a scientific expression of the degree of randomness or disorder in any system, zero entropy being a state of perfect order and high entropy being a high degree of randomness. Since disorder is inefficient, a high degree of entropy indicates the system can do very little work. The term has thus moved into cybernetics as a measure of the efficiency of any system in communicating information. If a cable or a machine produces disorder in the data, it is inefficient. The term entropy moved from science into cultural and literary criticism (notably in the 1970s) to describe states of social and communicational disorder.

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Editors. "Entropy". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=341, accessed 26 September 2016.]