Information is Physical, But Slippery

  • Rolf Landauer


I am aiming to give the perspective of an outsider. I’m not really into quantum computing - in some ways, I’m a critic, although I am a friendly critic. To begin with the conclusion, I would like to point out that, in this field, people are always making comparisons with computing history, stating that quantum computing has reached this point, or that point. Currently, I believe, quantum computing is where Charles Babbage was: he had a relatively prophetic, far fetched and complete vision of what you could do in a mechanical way for handling data. He did not, however, have the remotest chance of actually doing it in his time. The real breakthrough came in 1890 or thereabouts when Herman Hollerith put together the right technology with the right application - tabulating US census data with electrical sensing of holes in punched card. That’s the combination that started us on the whole road towards automated data processing.


Quantum Computing Quantum Computation Punch Card Free Space Propagation Automate Data Processing 
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Further Reading

  1. R. Landauer, ‘Need for Critical Assessment’, IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, vol. 43, No. 10, October 1996.Google Scholar
  2. R. Landauer, ‘Information is Inevitably Physical’, submitted to Feynman Lectures on Computation, vol. 2, edited by A.J.G. Hey ( Addison Wesley, Reading, 1998 ).Google Scholar
  3. R. Landauer, ‘Supposed Universality of 1/3 Shot Noise Reduction’ (contains an appendix evaluating adventurous device proposals), submitted to Microelectronic Engineering as part of the Proceedings of New Phenomena in Mesoscopic Structures, Hawaii, December 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Landauer
    • 1
  1. 1.IBMUSA

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