Computation and its Limits is an innovative cross-disciplinary investigation of the relationship between computing and physical reality. It begins by exploring the mystery of why mathematics is so effective in science and seeks to explain this in terms of the modelling of one part of physical reality by another. Going from the origins of counting to the most blue-skies proposals for novel methods of computation, the authors investigate the extent to which the laws of nature and of logic constrain what we can compute. In the process they examine formal computability, the thermodynamics of computation and the promise of quantum computing.
Greg Michaelson studied Computer Science as an undergraduate at the University of Essex (1970-73) and as a postgraduate at the University of St Andrews (1974-77), working as a real-time programmer at Scottish Gas in between. He subsequently taught Computer Studies at Napier College and Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. He joined Heriot-Watt University in 1983, where he gained his PhD in 1993, was Head of Computer Science from 2003-8 and promoted to Professor in 2006. Dr Michaelson's research interests encompass formally motivated computing, in particular the design, implementation and analysis of programming languages for multi-process systems. He published his first novel in 2008.