Jul 06 2005

The BIT and the Pendulum

Published by at 12:23 pm under Books

by Tom Siegfried

The subtitle is “From Quantum Computing to M Theory – The New Physics of Information” correctly indicates it is a broad ranging book that focuses on the inclusion of information concepts in science, mostly physics, and the impact of physics on theoretical computing. The book is a little out of date since it was published in 2000, at the height of the Internet/information technology boom. It is also superficial which is good and necessary if it is to be broadly accessible. But that superficiality caused me some concerns as basic concepts in the book are not really defined and seem to be used with multiple implicit meanings.

The book starts with a lengthy exposition of the start of and then current status of quantum computing. This is what attracted me to the book as I’d like to get a basic understanding of it. The book helped a little, but I’m still hung up on how to relate a quantum computation to a problem stated by a human. Not to say I understand the internals of such a computation, but how to describe the problem (inputs) and relate the final state (outputs) to a specific solution in this gross non quantum world.

The rest of the book then is more about use of information concepts in physics and the information aspects of the quest to develop a unified theory of the universe (quantum, gravity, everything).

The author is (was?) a science correspondent for a Dallas newspaper and some of the sections read as if they were first published as columns which they probably were.

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