Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It's official: Physics is hard

Date:
May 8, 2012
Source:
madrimasd
Summary:
Scientists have conducted scientific research on the difficulty –- from a computational complexity theory perspective -- of addressing some of the challenges of physics.

Toby Cubitt, researcher at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and member of the QUITEMAD Scientific Consortium (R&D Technologies Program, funded by the Madrid Government) together with other colleagues, have conducted scientific research on the difficulty -- from a computational complexity theory perspective -- of addressing some of the challenges of physics.

The work has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters , and Science magazine has also published an article, commenting on this work. Toby Cubitt and his colleagues, Jens Eisert and Michael Wolf, of the Universities of Berlin and Munich respectively, show in this article the difficulty of obtaining the equations that govern the temporal evolution of a physical system, from observations of the system at different times, thereby showing the mathematical certainty of the difficulty of physics.

The journal Science reported on February 21, 2012, in its Science Now section, the recent discovery of quantum physicist Toby Cubitt, from the Mathematical Analysis Dept. at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and his colleagues: it's possible to mathematically prove that physics is hard.

As we are taught in school, physics tries to provide mathematical equations that explain the evolution of a system over time, starting from observations of that system. With the current advances in supercomputers, one might expect that this process could be automated, replacing the creativity of scientists by the calculation power of computers.

Fortunately for scientists, Toby Cubitt and colleagues have shown mathematically that this is not possible, in an article recently published in Physical Review Letters.

But how can you prove that a problem is hard? The mathematical theory of computational complexity allows problems to be classified according to their difficulty. There are easy problems to solve, such adding or multiplying two numbers, which therefore can be automated, allowing a computer to solve them. But there are others, such as optimization problems of logistics in freight transport, which are very hard. So much so that, if there was a way to automate the solution, then it would be possible to automate the solution of ALL these problems (this is believed to be impossible, and is known as the "P different from NP" conjecture). It is precisely this latter class of very hard problems to which the problem of obtaining the equations governing the evolution of physical systems belongs.

Therefore, the work of Toby Cubitt and his colleagues will allow everyone to sleep soundly at night. Physicists, because supercomputers are not going to take over their jobs. And non-physicists, because although they always suspected that physics is hard and therefore difficult to understand, now there is no doubt: it is a mathematical certainty.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by madrimasd. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Toby Cubitt, Jens Eisert, Michael Wolf. Extracting Dynamical Equations from Experimental Data is NP Hard. Physical Review Letters, 2012; 108 (12) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.120503

Cite This Page:

madrimasd. "It's official: Physics is hard." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508103809.htm>.
madrimasd. (2012, May 8). It's official: Physics is hard. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508103809.htm
madrimasd. "It's official: Physics is hard." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508103809.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Plans To Speed Up Web Pages With New Image Format

Google Plans To Speed Up Web Pages With New Image Format

Newsy (July 21, 2014) Google is using compressed images in WebP format to help boost page loading times. The files are 25-to-34 percent smaller than PNGs and JPEGs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguayan Creates Chess Game for Multiple Opponents

Uruguayan Creates Chess Game for Multiple Opponents

AFP (July 19, 2014) It no longer takes two to play chess – or at least according to a new version of the game invented by Uruguayan Gabriel Baldi, where up to four opponents can play. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Reuters - US Online Video (July 18, 2014) The FCC received more than 800,000 comments on whether and how internet speeds should be regulated, even crashing its system. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Won't Call Games With In-App Add-Ons Free, Apple Will

Google Won't Call Games With In-App Add-Ons Free, Apple Will

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The European Commission asked Google and Apple not to label apps "free" if they include in-app purchases. Google has complied; Apple has resisted. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins