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review 2017-04-11 17:33
The Feynman Lectures on Computation, Richard Feynman
Feynman Lectures On Computation - Robin W. Allen,J.G. Hey,Anthony Hey,David Pines,Richard P. Feynman

There is much that is meritorious here: Feynman's distinctive voice comes through clearly. One gets an insight into both his teaching philosophy and his working methods. The book heavily reflects what Feynman thought was important, interesting and essential to know about the field and makes accessible some really unusual topics as well as some familiar ones (if one has ever done an entry level course on the subject). There is a 10p memoir of Feynman by the book's editor at the end, which contains some delightful anecdotes that are not recorded elsewhere in the Feynman canon.

 

Feynman's working method, which he encourages others to adopt, was to work out as much as he can on his own first and look up what others had done afterwards. He would find that usually he had come up with no original results but quite often would have reached the same conclusions by an alternative route. Occasionally he proved something that was not known before. This technique is fabulous if one has both a wide knowledge (in memory) of physics and maths and a great facility with both, too. For lesser mortals it's completely useless.

 

The book oscillated from fascinating (reversible computing, quantum computers) to excruciatingly dull (logic circuit design, chip fabrication, semi-conductor device theory) depending on my personal level of interest. Even Feynman can't make engineering interesting to me! But that's not his fault; if you're into these topics it'll be great. If you're not, it's for Feynman completists only.

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text 2017-03-30 12:33
Reading progress update: I've read 252 out of 320 pages.
Feynman Lectures On Computation - Robin W. Allen,J.G. Hey,Anthony Hey,David Pines,Richard P. Feynman

Kinda just want this last chapter to be over, now; the current topic bores me and is in many respects very out of date.

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text 2017-03-21 16:34
Reading progress update: I've read 233 out of 320 pages.
Feynman Lectures On Computation - Robin W. Allen,J.G. Hey,Anthony Hey,David Pines,Richard P. Feynman

We arrived at the physics of MOSFET transistors and the like; this is a topic I found dull as an undergrad, despite liking other solid-state physics topics, such as phonon transport, band theory and even crystallography. This, it appears, is down to the fact that how semi-conductor devices work is really engineering, not physics.

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text 2017-02-24 16:24
Reading progress update: I've read 199 out of 320 pages.
Feynman Lectures On Computation - Robin W. Allen,J.G. Hey,Anthony Hey,David Pines,Richard P. Feynman

The chapter on how to design a quantum computer is even more conceptually demanding than that on reversible computers. No-one without a working knowledge of quantum mechanics will get beyond the introductory passages that essentially repeat earlier material.

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text 2017-02-23 17:08
Reading progress update: I've read 185 out of 320 pages.
Feynman Lectures On Computation - Robin W. Allen,J.G. Hey,Anthony Hey,David Pines,Richard P. Feynman

Billiard ball computers...and next up, quantum computers!

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