It has always been a puzzle for me how a certain type of information can be discarded from a system when it is unused. Say, for example, the Internet Protocol (IP) specification states that packets whose version is neither 4 nor 6 are 'discarded'. Since the packets' representation is a signal of some sort, how is this information 'discarded'? Where does it go? Is it dissipated as heat or something else?

(I don't know how to tag this, or whether it's in the right section so excuse me if I'm wrong here)

• Every classical signal is dissipated as heat, no matter if the information is discarded or not! Only in a quantum computer there's a difference here. – leftaroundabout May 1 '14 at 19:23
• Possibly related physics.stackexchange.com/questions/110739/… – Digital Trauma May 1 '14 at 19:30
• Discarded means the same as "ignored" in this context (after examination to determine you don't care about it any further). There isn't a bin someplace with a pile of discarded bits. – Olin Lathrop May 1 '14 at 22:01
• The circuit includes a node with the netname /dev/nul, and there's a demultiplexor... – Ben Voigt May 1 '14 at 22:12