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Communications of the ACM

The computational metaphor and quantum physics


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Concurrent computational systems, viewed as sets of cooperating processes, are shown to have close analogies in the world of quantum physics. In particular, analogies exist between processes and particles, between a process' state and a particle's mass, between a process'state changes and a particle's velocity, and between interprocess communications and particle interactions. This view allows the application in the computational world of special relativity theory, the uncertainty principle, the law of conservation of momentum, and many of particle physics' fundamental results. This paper describes the basic analogy and some fundamental results. It is the authors' belief that new insights into a computational processes will be gained as the analogy is developed and vice versa. It is conceivable that established results of the computational sciences may contribute to a new understanding of some of the problems of physics. Other process-oriented sciences, such as biology, economics, and psychology, could also benefit from such development.

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