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jerryking : physics   13

The future is quantum: solution to the world’s critical problems
Jeremy O’Brien

MARCH 24, 2017

Being able to perform accurate simulation of how molecules behave can help to solve critical problems confronting society in energy, climate change, healthcare, etc.....conventional computers are not only currently inadequate but will forever remain so. In the past, we could rely on regular increases in computing power. The number of transistors within computer chips has impressively doubled every two years, a trend known as Moore’s Law. But just when we’d like to rely on it most, Moore’s Law has come to an end. In 2015, Tom Conte, president of the IEEE's Computer Society, stated prophetically that “Moore’s Law is reaching its limits: the doubling of transistors per unit area is slowing down . . . and is projected to end at seven nanometres circa 2020.”....Using conventional computers, exact simulation of molecules with just a few hundred atoms could take longer than the age of the universe....quantum computing offers a drastically different approach to computing that is profound both in terms of the fundamental laws of physics it exploits, and the transformations it will bring about in our lives, society and economy.....conventional computers represent each “bit” of information — the logical zero or one — in the on-off state of a transistor. But by exercising careful control over some of the smallest constituents of our universe, quantum computers instead work with “qubits”. A standard bit can only exist in the zero or the one state, whereas a qubit can adopt a uniquely quantum superposition of the two logical states....Any carefully controlled system obeying the laws of quantum mechanics can be used to form a qubit; popular choices are trapped ions, superconducting circuits and single particles of light, known as photons.....

The quantum advantage

Many problems evading conventional computers are well suited to a quantum computer — molecular simulation being a prime example. A large fraction of today’s supercomputing power is used to perform molecular and materials simulations. But these simulations are limited to small systems and imperfect approximations. Although precisely simulating the quantum mechanical behaviour of molecules is insurmountable for a conventional computer, a quantum computer is perfectly suited to represent these kinds of intrinsically “quantum” problems.... is one of the most compelling features of quantum computing: it’s a technology that expands the way we can think, and the extent of the possible solutions we can investigate.

But the benefit of quantum computers is not limited to molecular applications. So-called quantum algorithms allow us to come up with powerful approaches to seemingly “unquantum” problems. For example, quantum algorithms can search databases faster, perform pattern matching (important in genomics and genetic engineering, for example), and even perform computer graphics operations more efficiently.

These algorithms are hard to come up with, because they require us to think in a quantum way, but as quantum technologies become more ubiquitous and we become more proficient at thinking like this, we can expect more and more to emerge. There are even quantum algorithms that can perform key elements of machine-learning tasks, which are vital for big data business analytics, and in growing areas of artificial intelligence such as self-driving cars.
quantum_computing  Moore's_Law  semiconductors  physics  problem_solving 
january 2018 by jerryking
Review: How Laws of Physics Govern Growth in Business and in Cities
MAY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | By JONATHAN A. KNEE

Book review of “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies” (Penguin), by Geoffrey West, a theoretical physicist.....Mr. West’s core argument is that the basic mathematical laws of physics governing growth in the physical world apply equally to biological, political and corporate organisms.....The central observation of “Scale” is that a wide variety of complex systems respond similarly to increases in size. Mr. West demonstrates that these similarities reflect the structural nature of the networks that undergird these systems. The book identifies three core common characteristics of the hierarchal networks that deliver energy to these organisms — whether the diverse circulatory systems that power all forms of animal life or the water and electrical networks that power cities. First, the networks are “space filling” — that is, they service the entire organism. Second, the terminal units are largely identical, whether they are the capillaries in our bodies or the faucets and electrical outlets in our homes. Third, a kind of natural selection process operates within these networks so that they are optimized......These shared network qualities explain why when an organism doubles in size, an astonishing range of characteristics, from food consumption to general metabolic rate, grow something less than twice as fast — they scale “sublinearly.” What’s more, “Scale” shows why the precise mathematical factor by which these efficiencies manifest themselves almost always relate to “the magic No. 4.”

Mr. West also provides an elegant explanation of why living organisms have a natural limit to growth and life span following a predictable curve, as an increasing proportion of energy consumed is required for maintenance and less is available to fuel further expansion.

....Despite his reliance on the analysis of huge troves of data to develop and support his theories, in the concluding chapters, Mr. West makes a compelling argument against the “arrogance and narcissism” reflected in the growing fetishization of “big data” in itself. “Data for data’s sake,” he argues, “or the mindless gathering of big data, without any conceptual framework for organizing and understanding it, may actually be bad or even dangerous.”
books  book_reviews  business  cities  economics  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  growth  innovation  Jonathan_Knee  linearity  massive_data_sets  metabolic_rate  natural_selection  physical_world  physics  physicists  powerlaw  scaling  selection_processes  sublinearity  sustainability 
may 2017 by jerryking
To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old - The New York Times
Pagan Kennedy APRIL 7, 2017

Pagan Kennedy is the author of “Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World”

it’s easy for us middle-aged folk to believe that the great imaginative leaps are behind us, and that innovation belongs to the kids.

On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no anomaly. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. Similarly, professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, who studied data about patent holders, found that, in the United States, the average inventor sends in his or her application to the patent office at age 47, and that the highest-value patents often come from the oldest inventors — those over the age of 55.....The more I talked to Dr. Goodenough, the more I wondered if his brilliance was directly tied to his age. After all, he has been thinking about energy problems longer than just about anyone else on the planet.....“I’m old enough to know you can’t close your mind to new ideas. You have to test out every possibility if you want something new.”

When I asked him about his late-life success, he said: “Some of us are turtles; we crawl and struggle along, and we haven’t maybe figured it out by the time we’re 30. But the turtles have to keep on walking.” This crawl through life can be advantageous, he pointed out, particularly if you meander around through different fields, picking up clues as you go along. .... The tapestry reminds him of the divine power that fuels his mind. “I’m grateful for the doors that have been opened to me in different periods of my life,” he said. He believes the glass battery was just another example of the happy accidents that have come his way: “At just the right moment, when I was looking for something, it walked in the door.”
physics  batteries  energy  creativity  biases  patents  midlife  genius  aging  late_bloomers 
april 2017 by jerryking
Silicon Valley Stumbles in World Beyond Software
DEC. 6, 2016 | WSJ | BY JACK NICAS

In software, programmers can control their environment. The physical world is messy and unpredictable. Even the smartest computers can’t prepare for every possibility. Add to that the burden of public safety and regulation and it is easy to see why the tech industry hasn’t been able to replicate its success in the digital realm.

“The world is so unforgiving. You can’t just ask it to be more organized,” said Astro Teller, the ponytailed chief of X, Alphabet’s research lab that has investigated—and decided against—space elevators and jetpacks.

Moreover, digital progress is rapid, because computing power increases dramatically over time and software can be replicated endlessly. In the physical world, advances are constrained by physics.
physics  analog  Google  drones  challenges  cyberphysical  Silicon_Valley  software  meat_space  moonshots  Amazon  physical_world 
december 2016 by jerryking
Winton Capital’s David Harding on making millions through maths
NOVEMBER 25, 2016 | Financial Times | by Clive Cookson.

Harding’s career is founded on the relentless pursuit of mathematical and scientific methods to predict movements in markets. This is a never-ending process because predictive tools lose their power as markets change; new ones are always needed. “We have 450 people in the company, of whom 250 are involved in research, data collection or technology,” he says. That is equivalent to a medium-sized university physics department....Harding's approach to making money is to exploit failures in the efficient market theory...the problem with the EMT is that “It treats economics like a physical science when, in fact, it is a human or social science. Humans are prone to unpredictable behaviour, to overreaction or slumbering inaction, to mania and panic.”...The Winton investment system is based instead on “the belief that scientific methods provide a good means of extracting meaning from noisy market data. We don’t make assumptions about how markets should work, rather we use advanced statistical techniques to seek patterns in huge data sets and base all our investment strategies on the analysis of empirical evidence...Harding emphasises the breadth and volume of investments involved, covering bonds, currencies, commodities, market indices and individual equities. The aim is to exploit a large number of weak predictive signals, he says: “We don’t expect to find any strong relationships between data and the price of the market. That may sound counter-intuitive but if there are strong relationships, someone else is going to be exploiting those. Weak relationships are where we have a competitive advantage.” Weather strategies are one feature of Winton research, including analysis of cloud cover and soil moisture levels to predict the prices of agricultural commodities. Other important indicators, for which maths can uncover value not fully reflected in market prices, include seasonal factors and inventory levels across supply chains....When I ask Harding about the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to guide investment decisions, he bristles slightly. “There is a sudden upsurge of excitement about AI,” he says, “but we have used techniques that would be described as machine learning for at least 30 years.”

Essentially, he says, quantitative investing, self-driving cars and speech recognition are all applications of “information engineering”....he heads off to a lecture by German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, who runs the Harding Centre for Risk Literacy in Berlin
communicating_risks  mathematics  hedge_funds  investment_research  financiers  Winton_Capital  physics  Renaissance_Technologies  James_Simons  moguls  quantitative  panics  overreaction  massive_data_sets  philanthropy  machine_learning  signals  human_factor  weak_links  JumpMath 
november 2016 by jerryking
Perimeter Institute's formula for a calculated physics reboot - The Globe and Mail
IVAN SEMENIUK
WATERLOO, ONT. — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2015

“We want to reboot physics – globally,” says Neil Turok, Perimeter’s director and the driving force behind Convergence, a four-day physics summit that kicked off here on Sunday. Turok wants to channel the daring originality of the likes of: (a) Albert Einstein’s radical rethinking of gravity that gave us warped space and black holes; and (b), Emmy Noether’s first theorem, a tour de force of abstract reasoning that demonstrates the relationship between forms of symmetry in mathematics and the physical laws that govern the way the universe operates-- to help spark a another revolution.

The meeting’s premise is that theoretical physics has worked itself into the tall weeds, getting more complex and less connected to experiment than it ought to be. To get back out, Dr. Turok says, the field needs ideas as rich and startling as those that came from Einstein, Noether and their peers....The challenge in working with such individuals, says James Forrest, who runs the institute’s academic programs, is “how do you teach physics to the people who are already good at it?” It’s a dilemma universities seldom worry about – but for Perimeter, which aims to optimize the randomness of human brilliance, the question is crucial.

Another way in which the institute has tried to leverage the global talent pool is to bring in more female researchers. Women are conspicuously underrepresented in physics but through a funding stream called the Emmy Noether Circle the institute has significantly boosted its share of young women theorists.
Albert_Einstein  Perimeter_Institute  physics  Colleges_&_Universities  rebuilding  revitalization  reboot  physicists  women  Kitchener-Waterloo  randomness  talent_pools 
june 2015 by jerryking
Moore’s Law Shows Its Age - WSJ
By DON CLARK
April 17, 2015

Moore’s Law is hitting some painful limits.

The design and testing of a chip with the latest technology now costs $132 million, up 9% from the previous top-of-the-line chip, estimates International Business Strategies Inc., a consulting firm in Los Gatos, Calif. A decade ago, designing such an advanced chip cost just $16 million. Meanwhile, some companies for the first time are unable to reduce the cost of each tiny transistor....The changes are triggered partly by the many new processing steps needed to turn silicon wafers into the latest computer chips. Circuitry for the latest chips has a width of 14 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, which enables manufacturers to squeeze hundreds of millions more transistors on a chip than they could in the past. But designing products that use so many more components takes lots of time and money.
Moore's_Law  Silicon_Valley  history  Intel  diminishing_returns  semiconductors  miniaturization  physics 
april 2015 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: Living in the real world of finance
December 9, 2011 | G&M | by David Parkinson.
Both a scientist and financial guru, Emanuel Derman warns of relying on mathematical models to predict stock movements. As David Parkinson reports, investors should beware the wild card of human nature...Mr. Derman was in Toronto discussing his new book, Models. Behaving. Badly: Why Confusing Illusion With Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life.

DAVID PARKINSON
boundary_conditions  finance  quantitative  Wall_Street  Colleges_&_Universities  books  physics  models  mathematics  stockmarkets  biases  modelling  dangers  false_confidence  human_factor  stock_picking  illusions  oversimplification  in_the_real_world 
january 2012 by jerryking
It's good to be smart
Nov 30, 2010 |The Globe and Mail. pg. A.24 | editorial.

It may be 20 years, or 50, before there is a direct payoff from the BMO Sir Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont. Or from similar chairs to be named after Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac and James Clerk Maxwell. But the chairs are a wise investment that deserve emulating in other institutions in Canada.

It is not easy to be forward-looking in difficult times, but now is actually an excellent time to be investing in long-range projects that expand our intellectual capital. Why now? Because while other countries are hamstrung by economic problems, Canada is in decent enough shape to get a jump on attracting talent and stimulating innovation. In a borderless world economy, the value in becoming a magnet for scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs is immeasurable.

Abstract (Summary) Theoretical physics (the description of natural
phenomena in mathematical form) may seem like knowledge for knowledge's
sake. It is anything but, as Mike Lazaridis, the founder and co-chief
executive officer of the BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd., tells
it. The "next generation of value" will be intellectual capital, rather
than natural resources, he says.
Blackberry  BMO  borderless  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  editorials  endowments  forward_looking  hard_times  intellectual_capital  knowledge  Mike_Lazaridis  natural_resources  Perimeter_Institute  physics  physicists  RIM 
april 2011 by jerryking

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