We observe that our universe uses a reversible computation,  yet our brains only appear to use irreversible computation.  It seems important to ask why.   Is it possible for SAS’s to live in a universe that is directly associated with an irreversible computation?  If so then why are we special?


Computer science seems to be centered around the concept of “assignment”.  For example, computer memory undergoes state changes in the form of assignments to memory locations.  A Turing machine uses assignment operations each time a 1 or 0 is written on the tape.  Assignment involves lost information because it simply overwrites the previous value with a new value.  It is fundamentally irreversible.


I have been wondering whether we can get a better understanding of reversible computation by distinguishing between movement of information and assignment of information.  The analogy of the Turing machine would be that we need to cut up the tape with scissors – we are only allowed to move bits of tape around, rather than reassign values on the tape.   This leads quickly to the view of particles that move around,  rather than the idea of a particle that is stored in space (= memory) that moves as the result of “assignments to space”.


So rather than think of a small piece of space having an attribute of what particle is in it, we should think of a particle as having an attribute of where it is in space.  The latter view makes space seem rather incidental – rather than thinking of particles as being embedded in space.   I wonder to what extent physicists distinguish between these two views. 


I guess the distinction evaporates in string theory, where there is nothing but (higher dimensional) space-time.   There is nothing to assign to because the information is present in the topology of space itself.  Movement of information is more like a ripple on a pond.


The Turing machine seems to lack a direct relevance to our universe.   However, can’t a Turing machine emulate a reversible computation?


- David












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