Harvey S. Leff

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Harvey S. Leff
Hsl portrait.1.jpg
Born (1937-07-24) July 24, 1937 (age 82)
ResidencePortland, Oregon
EducationIllinois Institute of Technology (BS Physics, 1959)
Northwestern University (MS Physics, 1960)
University of Iowa (Ph.D. Physics, 1963)
Known forMaxwell's Demon: Entropy, Information, Computing (1990)
Maxwell's Demon 2: Entropy, Classical and Quantum Information, Computing (2003)
Scientific career
FieldsThermodynamics, Maxwell's demon, entropy and the second law of thermodynamics
InstitutionsCalifornia State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Reed College
Doctoral advisorMax Dresden

Harvey S. Leff (born July 24, 1937) is a United States physicist and physics teacher who is known primarily for his work on the foundations of thermodynamics, in particular, entropy and Maxwell's demon. He has published numerous research and expository articles in physics and has served the American Association of Physics Teachers in various capacities.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Leff was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in a Jewish family. In 1958 he married Ellen Wine and they have four children.[citation needed]


Leff is known primarily for his research and expository articles in physics, in particular on the subjects of entropy, Maxwell's demon, and the foundations of thermodynamics, including his 1996 'energy spreading' metaphor for entropy change.[citation needed]

He was a postdoctoral research associate and faculty member at the Case Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and Chair of the Department of Physical Sciences at Chicago State University. He was Visiting Professor of Physics at Harvey Mudd College was as Scientist and Energy Policy Analyst at the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge Associated Universities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Leff was Professor of Physics at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, where he was Department Chair and Professor. Since 2010 he has been a Visiting Scholar at Reed College.


Harvey Leff co-authored two books,[1][2] numerous articles,[3] and has a website All About Energy & Entropy.[4]


Leff is a Fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He served as President of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and President of the Southern California Section of the AAPT,and he has been Associate Editor and Consulting Editor for the American Journal of Physics.