Dominik Janzing. Is there a physically universal cellular automaton or Hamiltonian?

Natural Sciences / Physics / Quantum field theory

Submitted on: Jun 12, 2012, 19:27:52

Description: It is known that both quantum and classical cellular automata (CA) exist that are computationally universal in the sense that they can simulate, after appropriate initialization, any quantum or classical computation, respectively. Here we introduce a different notion of universality: a CA is called physically universal if every transformation on any finite region can be (approximately) implemented by the autonomous time evolution of the system after the complement of the region has been initialized in an appropriate way. We pose the question of whether physically universal CAs exist. Such CAs would provide a model of the world where the boundary between a physical system and its controller can be consistently shifted, in analogy to the Heisenberg cut for the quantum measurement problem.

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