This Thursday, we have the pleasure to welcome Chiara Marletto (University of Oxford) to explore Constructor Theory.
The theory of the universal quantum computer has brought us rapid technological developments, together with remarkable improvements in how we understand quantum theory.
There are, however, reasons to believe that quantum theory may ultimately have to be modified into a new theory: for instance, it will have to be merged with general relativity, to incorporate gravity; and some claim that it may be impossible to have quantum effects beyond a certain macroscopic scale.
So what lies ahead of quantum theory, and of the universal quantum computer? To shed some light into these questions, we need a shift of logic in the way things are explained.
Specifically, one can adopt the approach where the basic assumptions are general principles about possible/impossible transformations, rather than dynamical laws and initial conditions. This approach is called constructor theory.
Chiara Marletto will describe its application to a handful of interconnected problems, within information theory, thermodynamics, and even quantum gravity. This ‘Physics of Can and Can’t’ may be the first step towards the ultimate generalization of the universal quantum computer, which von Neumann called the ‘universal constructor’.
Chiara Marletto is a Research Fellow at Wolfson College and the Physics Department, University of Oxford. Her research is in theoretical physics, with special emphasis on Quantum Theory of Computation, Information Theory, Thermodynamics, Condensed-Matter Physics and Quantum Biology. Some of her recent research has harnessed a recently proposed generalisation of the quantum theory of information – Constructor Theory — to address subtle issues at the foundations of the theory of control and causation in physics. These include applications to defining general principles encompassing classical, quantum and post-quantum theories of information; and to assessing the compatibility of essential features of living systems, such as the ability to self-reproduce and evolve, with fundamental laws of physics, in particular with Quantum Physics. They also include the definition of a new class of witnesses of quantum effects in systems that need not obey quantum theory, such as gravity; and a scale-independent definition of irreversibility, work and heat, based on constructor-theoretic ideas. Chiara’ new book about her research, “The Science of Can and Can’t”, will be out next spring, published by Penguin.
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