Digital Physics: The Pioneering Konrad Zuse

09/29/11
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Edward Fredkin

Fredkin has been broadly interested in computation: hardware and software. He is the inventor of many things including the Trie data structure, the Fredkin Gate and the Billiard Ball Model. Fredkin and his students did pioneering work on cellular automata and reversible computing. He has also been involved in computer vision, chess and other areas of AI research.

Konrad Zuse, a painter and inventor of the first program-driven computer, saw in his invention parallels with the world around him. In his book, Rechnender Raum (translated as Calculating Space) he posed a radical notion: that the universe operates based on a set of basic on/off instructions similar to that of cellular automata. Fellow computer scientists Edward Fredkin and Jürgen Schmidhuber reminisce about Zuse, his work, and the ideas that kick-started serious thought in the realm of digital physics.

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