I have a reasonably diverse set of research interests. The pages below reflect some of my past undertakings, current understandings and future interests in science and the universe in general.
IoT stands for Internet-of-Things, and it is already here!
The internet-of-things is one of those buzzwords that you might have heard recently, but are perhaps not entirely sure what it means exactly. Some other buzzwords related to this topic include MEMS sensor, Cloud Computing and Edge Computing, open source hardware and open source software.
Along with colleagues at DSTG and the System Health Lab at the University of Western Australia, I have been building IoT devices that can be useful in a number of industries.
Quantum mechanics, quantum physics or quantum theory are all umbrella terms for the branch of physics that attempts to describe the interactions of energy and matter at the atomic and subatomic scales. The term is generally used to differentiate from classical physics. Around the turn of the 20th century it was discovered that many of the laws of physics as understood at the time (classical physics) broke down when dealing with objects at high velocities, or very small objects. The theories of relativity and quantum mechanics were developed to overcome these problems. Ideally we would have a single theory encompassing relativity and quantum mechanics, however so far, nobody has been able to come up with such a theory.
These days quantum computation is often considered a subset of the broader field of study now known as quantum information science, however the term quantum information science only came into common use well after the term quantum computation (at least that is how I remember it anyway).
Generally Feynman is credited with the observation that simulating a quantum system on a classical system appears to take an exponential amount of resources, so perhaps a quantum system could perform some sort of calculation exponentially faster than is possible on a classical system. It was David Deutsch who did the pioneering work of defining a quantum computer, discussing how it would work and doing such things as defining quantum logic gates. David Deutsch did much of this work during the 1980’s. It was not until the early nineties though that quantum computation got a enormous boost when Peter Shor devised his quantum algorithm for factoring.
Since the advent of Shor’s algorithm, many people (myself included) have attempted to come up with quantum algorithms which substantially out-perform their classical counterparts, however very few have been successful.
There are really two sides to the field of quantum computation. One side takes the abstract axioms of quantum mechanics and attempts to come up with clever quantum algorithms and protocols, the other side investigates ways in which a quantum computer may be built in the future.
A sad truth: Despite what you may read in some popular science articles, nobody is very close to building a functioning and useful quantum computer. If anybody tells you different, they are trying to sell you something.
You might think that investigating ways of building a quantum computer would be a solely experimental pursuit, but in reality it requires contributions from both theoretical and experimental physicists. Much of my work in quantum computation was looking at simple “toy” quantum algorithms, and investigating (from a theoretical perspective) how these algorithms might be implemented using current cutting-edge experimental techniques ( , , , , , , [M1] ).
My interest in neural networks, like my interest in philosophy of the mind, stems from my desire to understand consciousness (which, by the way, I believe has very little to do with quantum mechanics).
Artificial Neural Networks
There are a number of different perspectives which can be taken to describe artificial neural networks, and in fact, as there is a very diverse set of procedures which go under the name of “artificial neural networks”, it would be difficult to come up with a definition which encompasses all the various techniques. The traditional definition, a version of which can be found in any of the seminal textbooks or review articles (for example Haykin), draws analogies between artificial neural networks and the neural networks found in biological organisms (such as the human brain). However, I believe that artificial neural networks, often referred to simply as neural networks (or NNs) when it is clear from the context that we are talking about the artificial kind, could be equally as well described simply as a mathematical or computational tool, which can be used to categorize input data into two or more output sets. For a more mathematical treatment of neural networks see for example Bishop.
I am a quantum physicist by training, and it is often remarked that quantum physics is incredibly hard to get one’s head around, as it is so counter-intuitive, however in my opinion the counter-intuitiveness of quantum physics pales into insignificance compared to trying to get one’s head around the concept of consciousness. There is nothing more counter-intuitive than trying to contemplate the concept that you (as a conscious entity) might not exist.
Philosophy of the Mind
My interest in philosophy of the mind, like my interest in neural networks stems from my desire to understand consciousness (which, by the way, I believe has very little to do with quantum mechanics).
This website came about because I wanted an online habit tracker, which was flexible and fast. I searched around the internet for some time, however I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. The closest I came was joesgoals.com, which is a very cool, free website, however it did not have all the capabilities that I was looking for. Thus I decided to create my own habit tracker.