Sunday, January 17, 2010

John Baez is changing course

John Baez has announced that he is going to Singapore for a year, and at the same time is changing his research direction. He would like to try his hand "at some slightly more ‘practical’ endeavors", and has a "growing urge to help save the planet".

He is going to the Centre for Quantum Technologies, a research institute whose mission is to conduct interdisciplinary theoretical and experimental research into the fundamental limits to information processing, and is directed by Artur Ekert, who is a professor of quantum physics at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford University. (Bob Coecke, who uses category theory to study quantum information is also at Oxford but at the Computing laboratory.)

There John is likely to meet one of our Como physicists, Giulio Casati, actually the founder of the Como Science Faculty, winner of the Enrico Fermi prize (2008), Somaini prize (1991), and associate editor of Chaos, Solitons & Fractals. John may have more success than I in interesting Giulio in category theory.

The work John is developing on n-category cafe in a sequence of posts regards graphical reasoning in biological and physical systems. He might be interested in a paper of mine with Katis and Sabadini, "On the algebra of feedback and systems with boundary" (Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo Serie II, Suppl. 63 (2000), 123-156), in which section 4.2 is called "Towards an algebraic foundation for electrical circuit theory". A version of the paper is available called here. Another paper which might be of interest is called "Systems with discrete geometry" and is available here.

Given his desire to save the world I have the sneaking suspicion that one day John will end up in politics like another young mathematician with name B***, who also wrote an article seeking to popularize category theory. (I regret to say that I found the article of B*** particularly unconvincing).



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