Feynman lectures on computation - Feynman R. P.
Since it is now some eight years since Feynman died I feel it necessary to explain the genesis of these 'Feynman Lectures on Computation'. In November 1987 I received a call from Helen Tuck, Feynman's secretary of many years, saying that Feynman wanted me to write up his lecture notes on computation for publication. Sixteen years earlier, as a post-doc at CalTech I had declined the opportunity to edit his 'Parton' lectures on the grounds that it would be a distraction from my research. I had often regretted this decision so I did not take much persuading to give it a try this time around. At CalTech that first time, I was a particle physicist, but ten years later, on a sabbatical visit to CalTech in 1981, I became interested in computational physics problems - playing with variational approaches that (I later found out) were similar to techniques Feynman had used many years before. The stimulus of a CalTech colloquium on 'The Future of VLSI' by Carver Mead then began my move towards parallel computing and computer science. Feynman had an interest in computing for many years, dating back to the Manhattan project and the modeling of the plutonium implosion bomb. In 'Los Alamos from Below', published in 'Surely Ви re Joking, Mr. Feynman!', Feynman перелічує how he was put in charge of the 'IBM group' to calculate the energy release during implosion. Even in those days before the advent of the digital computer, Feynman and his team worked out ways to do bomb calculations in parallel. The official record at CalTech lists Feynman as joining with John Hopfield and Carver Mead in 1981 to give an interdisciplinary course entitled 'The of Physics Computation'. The course was given for two years and John Hopfield remembers that all three of them never managed to give the course together in the same year: one year Feynman was ill, and the second year Mead was on leave. A handout from the course of 1982/3 reveals the смак of the course: a basic primer on computation, computability and information theory followed by a section entitled 'Limits on computation arising in the physical world and "fundamental" limits on computation'. The lectures that year were given by Feynman and Hopfield with guest lectures from experts such as Marvin Minsky, John Cocke and Charles Bennett. In the spring of 1983, through his connection with MIT and his son Carl, Feynman worked as a consultant for Danny Hillis at Thinking Machines, an ambitious, new parallel computer company..