Digital Systems and Informatics vs. Physics and Mathematics

Edward Fredkin

Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 12:00 (note the unusual weekday and time)
Cybernetica Bldg (Akadeemia tee 21), room B101

Abstract: The applications of mathematics in the field of the physical sciences have been a key to much of the amazing progress made since Galileo and Kepler. The world of analytic functions has truly been astoundingly successful in physics: mechanical systems, electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, etc. This can be contrasted with the dearth of mathematical tools relevant to the world of informatics, digital information, processors, memories, etc. It has seemed that these two systems, physics and informatics, have very little in common.

We will report on new understanding as to how physics constrains and enables Digital Information & Computation. On the other hand things learnt from the digital world might actually enlighten us as to aspects of physics that are not currently understood. If we try to apply measures of information content to physical processes we may encounter paradoxical results. Nevertheless, new kinds of formal digital systems might someday help to shed light on philosophical questions such as "How might we eventually explain the amazing applicability of mathematics to the physical sciences?" and "How is it we have mathematical laws that work (ranging from Newton's laws to Quantum Mechanics) yet we have no comprehensible process models as to what is going on?"

Tarmo Uustalu
Last update 20.6.2007