USI researcher awarded the best dissertation prize of the German, Austrian and Swiss informatics societies
Institutional Communication Service
27 September 2018
Dr. Ämin Baumeler, PhD alumnus of the USI Faculty of Informatics and now a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, has been awarded the prize for the best doctoral thesis in informatics, jointly established by the three national informatics associations of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The dissertation "Causal Loops: Logically Consistent Correlations, Time Travel, and Computation" was supervised by USI professor Stefan Wolf. In his work, Dr. Baumeler focusses on the concept of cause-effect chains, analysed in the context of quantum theory, general relativity, and quantum gravity. A work of theoretical analysis, but with important and tangible implications for science and infomatics. As Dr. Baumeler explains, "Informatics and theoretical physics are closely related, and this allows concepts to be applied from physics to computer science and vice versa. At the outset, I questioned the standard assumptions of causality. It seems obvious, for example, that cause-effect relations do not allow cycles, or that an effect cannot also be its own cause. Yet this is not necessarily true according to the best existing physical theories. According to quantum theory and general relativity, it is in fact possible to have cause-effect cycles without creating logical contradictions. The next step of my work was to apply this approach to informatics and in particular to the theory of complexity. The results are very interesting and show how a computer capable of exploiting causal cycles can efficiently solve certain problems that up to now were considered overwhelmingly complex”.
The theory of complexity, which is one of the foundations of computer science, studies the limits of automatic computing, that is, it defines the computing power needed to solve certain problems and identifies problems that a computer will never be able to solve. The implications of this theory are far-reaching: different sectors of information technology could, in fact, be revolutionized, opening the way to new application scenarios. An example above all is that of cryptography: in one of the most used cryptographic systems in the world (for example, in e-banking systems) the security of data is guaranteed by the complexity of a particular problem (factorisation) which is precisely one of those that would be easy to resolve with a computer that exploits the cause-and-effect cycles.
Details of the prize (in German only): https://gi.de/meldung/daniel-gruss-und-aemin-baumeler-mit-dissertationspreis-der-gesellschaft-fuer-informatik-ausgezeichnet/
The dissertation of Dr. Ämin Baumeler: http://cqi.inf.usi.ch/publications/these_amin.pdf