Quantum Superpositions and the First Virtue: Reviews

Quantum Superpositions and the First Virtue: Reviews

On July 6, 2000, Dr. Damian Conway of Monash University, Australia, presented a talk entitled Quantum Superpositions and the First Virtue to E-SPUG (the Eastside Seattle Perl Users Group).

Comments by Tim Maher and David Patterson follow below.

Tim says: The following blurb was not meant so much as a review, but rather a recommendation to others to attend this great talk if they get the opportunity; hence the emphasis on motivation rather than divulging details.

You surely won't want to miss Damian's talk on "Quantum Superpositions and the First Virtue", in which he provides a hilarious review of the zany notions of Quantum Physics, and then shows a Perl module that implements a "superposition" as a scalar existing simultaneously in "parallel universes", along with some associated operators (e.g., any() and all() ). He then demonstrates how this programming platform lends itself to absurdly simple solutions to classic problems formerly associated with cumbersome algorithms (e.g., factoring huge numbers, searching for primes, and searching lists of strings for the longest common substring).

Tim Maher

David Patterson writes:

What happens when you cross Perl with Quantum Physics (and is it dangerous)? Of course, it depends on who is doing the crossing! Well, it seems that recently Dr. Damian Conway, of Monash University, Australia did some serious thinking about this subject and may have "tunnelled his way outside of the box" into some very interesting and important results. Important enough to possibly advance the field of parallel computing. And, serious enough that the US Government worried (at least temporarily) over whether or not to classify those results as "munitions". In any case, Dr. Conway abstracts the idea of Quantum Superposition into an elegant and useful new form of set theory, complete with its own operations and functions. And just because he could, he wrote a new perl module to demonstrate it! With this new set theory, it is astonishingly easy to represent complex mathematical algorithms in simple, elegant, non-iterative notation. Non-trivial algorithms like finding LCDs, factoring large numbers, finding huge prime numbers (oops, Security Alert!!), etc... But the key idea here is conveyed by the phrase "non-iterative". Is it possible to solve such problems without iterative loops? And how is this related to the Quantum Superposition theory and the field of parallel computing? For the answers, you won't want to miss Dr. Conway's lively and entertaining talk on "Quantum Superpositions and the First Virtue".

David S. Patterson
Lucent Technologies

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