Journal of mathematical physics vol:48 issue:5 pages:1-13
The minimum entropy production principle provides an approximative variational characterization of close-to-equilibrium stationary states, both for macroscopic systems and for stochastic models. Analyzing the fluctuations of the empirical distribution of occupation times for a class of Markov processes, we identify the entropy production as the large deviation rate function, up to leading order when expanding around a detailed balance dynamics. In that way, the minimum entropy production principle is recognized as a consequence of the structure of dynamical fluctuations, and its approximate character gets an explanation. We also discuss the subtlety emerging when applying the principle to systems whose degrees of freedom change sign under kinematical time reversal. (c) 2007 American Institute of Physics.