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Published December 2002 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

A new physics


This session considers the application of mathematics from control theory to several persistent mysteries at the foundations of physics where interconnected, multiscale systems issues arise. In addition to the ubiquity of power laws in natural and man-made systems, these include a new view of turbulence in highly sheared flows that results from design for drag minimization, the origin of macroscopic dissipation and thermodynamic irreversibility in microscopically reversible dynamics, the universality of quantum gates for quantum computing, decoherence minimization in quantum systems, and entanglement witnessing. The latter ones are problems at the heart of several important tasks such as quantum computing, teleportation and quantum key distribution. Much of the original motivation for a new science of complexity came from the hope that methods of theoretical physics could contribute to a theory of complex engineering and biological networks and systems. This collection of work shows that apparently exactly the opposite is true. The role that robust control methods play in this research will be the central theme of this paper, around which the other issues will be woven. The aim is not to provide a control-friendly rederivation of known results in physics, but rather to illustrate through representative examples, how exciting new results and important insight, as assessed by physicists themselves, can be obtained through the mathematics and methods that the control community has developed. Since this work is largely being published in the scientific literature, the controls community may be largely unaware of these developments.

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© 2002 IEEE. Reprinted with permission.

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