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Computer Science or Physics? About 2022 Nobel Prize

nobel 2022

Our expert Francesco Sisini, Ph.D., about the 2022 Nobel Price in Physics

Let’s start from the beginning

The IT world has received with great enthusiasm the news of the Nobel Prize awarded to Aspect, Clauser, and Zeilinger for the following reason: “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science”.

The three physicists, moreover well-known in the environment, have conducted experiments in quantum optics for years and have experimentally demonstrated the existence of electromagnetic radiation quanta (photons). It should be added that they conducted some of the most refined experiments to demonstrate the existence of states of several particles called entangled states.

In this context, I do not dwell on the detailed explanation of entanglement because I am interested in thinking about another question: why is so much enthusiasm in the world of the computer sciences?

Entanglement and quantum computing

Entanglement is a blessing for quantum computing but it is also a curse.

Without entanglement, quantum computing would certainly be interesting but in all likelihood, it would also be of little use. Much of quantum speed-up relies on entanglement. On the other hand, the entanglement that binds the qubits of a quantum computer with other particles external to the computer is responsible for the decoherence that still limits the use of quantum computers.

From this, we can understand why entanglement is so important for quantum computing and the reasons for giving these three guys such a prestigious award.

Are we talking about physics or computer science?

We finally come to the point. Is it a prize for physics or for information technology? Well, here lies the very core.

Computer science and physics are the same things!

This conclusion is certainly not mine, but the great physicist David Deutsch already wrote it clearly in 1985 when he proposed the reformulation of the Church-Turing principle. Here the reformulation:

Mathematics: Every function which would naturally be regarded as
computable can be computed by the universal Turing
machine.

to

Physics: Every finitely realizable physical system can be perfectly
simulated by a universal model computing machine operating
by finite means

Physics and computer science are very close

In practice, any complex computation it may appear to us is always and only the evolution of a physical system, and physics is the science that describes its laws.

Computer science and physics are actually much more than cousins, they are really the same thing. They are in the same relationship as chemistry and physics. This explains the enthusiasm unleashed in the world of computer science, this Nobel was certainly also concerned about this discipline.

Francesco Sisini


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Francesco Sisini is the lecturer in the Quantum Computing Basics course at the School of Disruption.
He is a physicist, with a master’s degree in nuclear physics and a Ph.D. in radioisotopic techniques. He has been working since 1996 on applications of artificial intelligence to medical imaging problems, among which he designed the physical and computer model used to process the results of the ultrasound experiments conducted by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on board the ISS.

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