Aug 27 2005

A Shortcut Through Time

Published by at 3:43 pm under Books

by George Johnson

This book is an example of simplified science writing. A description of one area of science and engineering meant to make it more or less accessible to “every-man”. In this case the area is quantum computing, but a rather broad definition was used.

I found it an unsatisfying book in the end. Parts of it were useful to me, but much of it wasn’t very relevant to explicating the how of quantum computers. On the plus side, I liked how clear the author was on his necessary use of analogy and metaphor since he scrupulously avoids any use of mathematics (to the extent of calling modulus arithmetic “clock arithmetic”). There was a lot of very basic material on ordinary digital computers, then some basic material on quantum computers and then a short foray into computability theory with an attempt to related quantum computing to computability.

The chapters on the quantum factoring algorithm and the quantum index lookup algorithm were the best part of the book. But the book seems to lack an audience. If a person needed the very basic material on digital computers, I’m hard pressed to see how they would have made any sense out of the quantum or computability material.

Enough. Not a bad book, but too simple in some areas, good in some, and a few just off the point. The level of detail was too uneven.

004.1J6322

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