The Feynman Processor : Quantum Entanglement and the Computing Revolution (Helix Books Series) by Gerard J. Milburn (19991201)
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Review Text
Is meant to be for the layperson, but unfortunately Milburn isn't as good at exhaustively explaining the bizarre world of the quantum as, say, a John Griffin. This book is more for people with some understanding of both computer science and quantum mechanics, as this is a nice explanation of where they converge. You can't quickly gloss over both disciplines and expect to have your readers understand them, but that's what Milburn tries to do. However, for what I needed, it delivered.
Gerard's book, is somewhat aimed at an audience well above its actual content. Its slightly advanced setting is probably better placed in a higher level forum than that of a popular science text.
This is a decent book for someone trying to get and overview of how quantum computing works. The author seems to get bogged down in the details, however. The mathematical examples are poorly worded and thus not very clear, the variable names are also quite hard to keep track of.This is certianly a book where you will have to read certain paragraphs two or three times to make sure you have it right.
This book is clearly written by a physics professor who doesn't spend much time talking to people who haven't studied physics. I would guess his editor falls into this category as well. The back cover praises its accessibility, a marketing gimmick as obviously deceptive as the sensationalistic chapter names. For example, one chapter, "Teleportation for Gamblers" is named after an obscure quantum phenomenon that has been dubbed teleportation for no apparent reason, has nothing to do with gambling, and is only referred to in passing.The first four chapters try to give an overview of quantum mechanics to those who haven't studied physics. Even after spending 4 years earning a Bachelor's in Physics, I was only barely able to follow the discussion. If I did not already understand the principles he was explaining, I would never have been able to fill in the holes of explanation.But my biggest complaint about this section is that he bases the entire discussion on calculating probabilities in a quantum environment. But in trying to avoid complex math, he leaves out essential details. The much more intuitive explanation of superposition of states (whereby an object is in two places or states at the same time) he barely mentions in this section. If the material was presented in this way, all the math would be unnecessary, and the interesting second part of the book would make much more sense.Beyond that, the book contains numerous factual mistakes. His Turing machine for multiplying on page 99 just doesn't work. On page 109, he says that if you have N objects, and for each object you need to store N pieces of information that have a total of N^N pieces of information. The correct answer, N^2, makes his point much less dramatic.The last two chapters are interesting indeed. They discuss what is possible with a quantum computer, and the state of research in 1998. I recommend that if you do buy this book, only read the last two chapters. If you can't follow it, look anywhere else for an explanation. The first four chapters will not help.
Reading unfinished, this is a document of thoughtbending topics: Probability and Physical models converge.Heady topics often requiring contemplation or research, prior to moving forward.
Timely reading with ongoing US and Swiss quantum computing research currently newsworthy due to NSA wanting fast processors to break codes in the war on terrorism.
Mathematics was invented for a reason, and the avoidance of even simple mathematics makes this book near unintelligible. Further, the habit of versing quantum theory in terms of genetics, real and imagined, further separates the subject mater from the reader; and giving Feynman credit for how probability amplitudes add would probably not please him at all. Give this one a wide berth and read instead 'The quest for the quantum computer' by Julian Brown which is everything this book is not.
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This book reminds me of Stephen Hawking's ``A Brief History of Time'', in that it consciously and conspicuously omits mathematical symbolism beyond highschool level. IMHO, this is a mistake, as it renders the material opaque, thereby serving neither the amateur nor the professional. Although it's almost heresy to say so, Emperor Hawking's book had no clothes.Although I have some knowledge of mathematics and quantum mechanics, the tiresome translations of concise expressions into longwinded textual explanations left me confused and bored. I feel that the lay person will also skim over them as completely as if they had been the original formulae.That said, the material is important, as is expressing these concepts to a broader audience. The book is wellorganised, and deserves more work. I humbly request a second, edited edition.