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Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,565 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Is the universe actually a giant quantum computer? According to Seth Lloyd—Professor of Quantum-Mechanical Engineering at MIT and originator of the first technologically feasible design for a working quantum computer—the answer is yes. This wonderfully accessible book illuminates the professional and personal paths that led him to this remarkable conclusion.

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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2006)
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Denis Vasilev
Мозг взрывается, концепции интересные, но понимания от прочтения не прибавляется.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
So first of all, thanks to Geoff for lending this to me. And no, I don't care that the Mayan 2012 hokey drug book I traded you for it is at the bottom of a ravine in the mountains.

First, a caveat. I am *decidedly* an amateur when it comes to physics, quantum mechanics and similar topics. I am not, however, an amateur when it comes to programming and computer science. It frames the rest of the review, since this book delves pretty darn deep into both fields.

Alright, since I'm on the topic, I supp
I really like Seth Lloyd. There are many extremely smart people today, but only few of them are able to explain and present certain theories so they are comprehensible to other people (especially in QM). So, in a way, Lloyd is like a modern Richard Feynman, also because he is witty, funny and easy to follow. Even though he deals with subjects that are way beyond our everyday experience, and even in that category, are very hard to conceptualize and understand, cause at a time they can be very cou ...more
Nathan Nifong
Jun 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
Programming the Universe was very hard for me to finish. despite how interesting I find information theory, quantum mechanics, and computer science, I just could not tolerate Seth Lloyd's writing. Extracting the underlying concepts from his disorderly descriptions is as tedious a process as getting pure metal from raw ore.
Zak J
Jan 11, 2011 added it
I have mixed feelings about this book. While the content was often interesting, it was also severely lacking in some places. He would make claims that were pivotal to the book's progression and then leave them unexplained. For instance, he would reach an important conclusion that the entropy of this was lower than that and therefore wasn't a violation of the 2nd Law, but would offer no explanation as to how he arrived at this conclusion. He elaborated the importance, but not the path to the solu ...more
Ami Iida
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book covers the basics of quantum understanding science.
But explanation of quantum computer is difficult dramatically.
You should be aware of it.

It has described the quantum mechanics from the primary step. it is easy for the beginners to read it.
my recommendation.

chapter 2 ; It is written about a logical game of Wittgenstein. the author is an extensive knowledge.

chapter 2 ; it is written about The principle of the computer. for example Logical gate,etc..........
chapter 3 ; the story o
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
The idea of the universe as a computer is not new, of course. Lloyd declares that from the very beginning and continues to explain in some detail several theories that have seen the universe as such a machine. Then, he asserts that in fact the universe is a quantum computer and from there, plenty of new stuff spread over the book. Lloyd describes briefly, but concisely quantum theory and its relevant aspects to create a quantum computer. The final chapter about measuring complexity was particula ...more
Charles Daney
This short book (about 220 pages) covers a large number of topics: information theory, thermodynamics, complexity, computing, quantum computers, quantum mechanics, the quantum measurement problem, interpretations of quantum mechanics, cosmology, and quantum gravity. Unfortunately, that's too many for such a short book. If one hasn't read separately about each of those topics, the treatment here will provide only a superficial picture. The book was first published in 2006, and there don't seem to ...more
Javier Cano
El libro está muy bueno, es una introducción, mas de divulgación, a la computación cuántica, para esto el autor primero presenta una discución muy interesante sobre qué es la información, pues como teórico de la información considera que una computadora sólo sabe manipular información (bits), argumentando que el universo está formado de información, las partículas son bits y hablar en el lenguaje de los átomos es hablar el lenguaje del úniverso y cómo esto podría servir para hacer cómputo, concl ...more
May 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: popular-physics
I read this book in the midst of a wave of readings on viewing the world as information (cybernetics, thermodynamics, information theory). I can't say it introduced many new concepts to this conversation, but more importantly, Seth Lloyd is a wizard with strange analogies that cast old ideas in new frameworks. Many scientists are so obsessed with the importance of their ideas (read: Stephen Wolfram) that they'd be horrified to toss them around and play with them like a child learning new words. ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really like the Book. Lloyd presents a very strong case for Universal Quantum Computation as being the main synthesizing method behind reality and Universal evolution. Not only were his ideas clear and concise but they were also well backed up by creditable references and experimental data. Though in the end he falls short of nailing down the last pesky pieces of a holistic model of a true "Theory of Everything," that includes a working model of gravity or an explanation of the initial cause o ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: computer scientists, people interesting in physics, information
I’ve been reading this book for a while. Non-fiction books except history books) always take me longer, as I like to check the facts, absorb the ideas…yeah, I know, it reminds some of you of schoolwork.

Dr. Lloyd’s book is full of ideas worth absorbing, the main one being that the universe is a continually running quantum computer. His book is an excellent mix of computer science, quantum mechanics and information theory, three subjects that can get quite difficult to explain separately, let alon
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book. I thought it was going to be a little thicker to read through, given the subject matter it deals with, you know, "Quantum Computing", way beyond rocket science if you ask me, but in the end it resulted in a very well written and well paced book. It did feature some thick paragraphs here and there, but nothing that a double-read wouldn't solve.

I highly recommend it as it adds a whole new perspective to one's universal view. We might be living inside the ultimate quantum computer
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Interesting and fascinating ideas about quantum computers - truly 'universal' ideas that are mind-bending. I was intrigued and found it interesting, despite realizing I just didn't 'get' much of it in a deep way and finally decided I'd had enough
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
great book, a must read for anyone passionate about natural science.
Mr Lloyd does a great job at explaining the informational theory of the universe. Its a bit to short for me, I would have loved to read more about this theory and about quantum computing.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quantum mechanics is always really weird to think about since it’s literally everywhere, but we just can’t see it. Seth Lloyd is an amazing, scientific author. He approaches this topic with humour and humility in realizing his audience isn’t just other scientists who know what he’s talking about. I really enjoyed reading his book. He was truly fantastic at explaining things. While he seems to go off topic here and there, it’s really just to help his readers gain a better understanding of complex ...more
Muising Thought
An awesome treatise on the future of computing, this book defines the fundamentals of computer science at the sub-atomic level. It provides an insight on a broad spectrum of computation starting from explaining the difference between a bit and a qubit (quantum bit), till showing how each and every elementary particle is capable of providing us computational power. It defines how the AND, OR,COPY, NOT gates can be formed which is quantum mechanics conform. Yes it's a nerdy affair and not meant fo ...more
Ryan Young
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: worldviewa, fizica
information theory meets particle physics. i love the idea of the universe as a quantum computer, sitting in superposed states until measurements are made on the system. simulating the universe would require all the time from the big bang to the present, with qubits corresponding to all the elementary particles in the universe. in short, only the universe can compute the universe.

old stories told with new language.
Jeff Cliff
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I got this at Plato's Cave in Winnipeg, as part of a grab bag of books that looked interesting. While it was an interesting read, It was beyond the suspension of disbelief. I was convinced that Seth Lloyd was a crank until I found a video of him later, and did some research.
Turns out everything in the book was almost certainly true and now I'm going to have to go out and re-buy another copy because it'd probably be good.
Vaibhav Sharma
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book. You will learn a lot about cosmology, quantum physics and quantum computing in a very fun and easy way. And so many great scientific theories that paved the way for quantum field of science.
ian kristofer mccollum
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Seth Lloyd does a remarkable job at introducing perspective changing quantum concepts to the reader at a pace & level that allows for natural comprehension. All while maintaining a very enjoyable read.
Paul Day
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting entre to the intersection between the quantum world and information theory.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Очень интересно и доступно о квантовых вычислениях
Nick Gall
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Picked up some very useful information about entropy and information. But the end of the book just seems to plow through the key conclusions without really helping me understand them.
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I came away with an impression that the first half of the book was written under a certain duress, as if Lloyd is the type of person who is fairly eloquent in speech but feels a tightness inside when forced to commit himself to paper. This is not uncommon. In some subtle way, he seems to warm to the task of composition in the second half.

Peculiarly at the outset, he tells a story about an apple (with a bite out of it, no less) and never hence alludes to the blush of knowledge, cyanide or turtle
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
A good book, but not a perfect one. I'm very interested in the core subject, that is, a computational theory of the universe. Long story short, a computational theory of the universe is a theory which states that, ultimately, if you had a computer huge enough to simulate perfectly the universe, well, that WOULD BE the universe; thus, the universe actually IS some sort of huge computer. I bought it hoping to gain more insight in this fascinating theory while avoiding the technicalities of an actu ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A small masterpiece about complexity and computation. Seth Lloyd, a brilliant physicist at MIT, explains complexity, computation, quantum mechanics and quantum computers in a clear and throughout way and shows that the universe is one big (quantum) computer itself. Reading this book should come with a small warning, it is not an easy book. He tries to explain things as easy as possible or as he says in this book "Keep It Simple, Stupid", but some knowledge about information theory, quantum mecha ...more
I originally picked up the book to gain insights into the information-theoretic explanations for Entropy. Along the way, I picked up a good general sense of the information-theoretic explanation of physics, the universe, and the potential GUT. As far as understanding entropy goes, though, I am not much closer than I was when I started.

Read this book to get a generic idea on how quantum computers work, and for a general outline on how the ideas behind them affect our understanding of physics, and
I originally picked up the book to gain insights into the information-theoretic explanations for Entropy. Along the way, I picked up a good general sense of the information-theoretic explanation of physics, the universe, and the potential GUT. As far as understanding entropy goes, though, I am not much closer than I was when I started.

Read this book to get a generic idea on how quantum computers work, and for a general outline on how the ideas behind them affect our understanding of physics, and
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2007
This book was extremely interesting. Seth Lloyd explains in fairly easy-to-understand terms (provided you have a small amount of background with computer science and physics) the concepts behind building a quantum computer (using atoms to compute and store data), the fact that the entire universe is computing, descriptions on how to get electrons to compute things, and the secret to living indefinitely (and many, many more cool topics). It was a relatively quick read, very informative and intere ...more
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Seth Lloyd is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He refers to himself as a "quantum mechanic".
His research area is the interplay of information with complex systems, especially quantum systems. He has performed seminal work in the fields of quantum computation and quantum communication, including proposing the first technologically feasible design f
More about Seth Lloyd...

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“Programmed by quanta, physics gave rise first to chemistry and then to life; programmed by mutations and recombination, life gave rise to Shakespeare; programmed by experience and imagination, Shakespeare gave rise to Hamlet.” 6 likes
“Meaning is like pornography, you know it when you see it.” 4 likes
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