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LazyFP, Quantum Computing, and the Diceman

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Lucian Armasu, 14 Jun 2018, tom’s HARDWARE. Intel PUs Affected By Yet Another Speculative Execution Flaw, here.

Security researchers from Amazon and Cyberus Technologies jointly discovered one of the eight second-generation Spectre flaws, which they dubbed “LazyFP” (CVE-2018-3665) because the vulnerability targets CPUs that use lazy floating point unit (FPU) switching.

Spectre Flaws Strike Again

Intel hadn’t even properly finished releasing patches to OEMs for the first generation of Spectre flaws before rumors about eight more Intel CPU vulnerabilities that affected speculative execution started appearing. According to reports, Intel has been pressing the researchers to delay their disclosure of the bugs, which is why we have yet to see all of them.

Simons Institute, 29 May – 20 Jul, Challenges in Quantum Computing, here.

Small to medium scale quantum computers are around the corner, and the biggest upcoming challenges are expected to be algorithmic. What computational tasks can such computers speed up? And how can we test them? More specifically, what are the prospects for quantum simulation, quantum machine learning, and protocols for testing quantum devices? The answers to these questions touch on deep issues and will require an unprecedented collaboration between theoretical computer science (algorithms, complexity theory, cryptography) and physics, chemistry and mathematics. This summer cluster will bring together researchers from these fields to collaborate on formalizing and answering these questions. The third week of the 8-week program, June 11-15, will be devoted to a workshop exploring the state of the art related to these challenges.

Scientist, 15 Jun 2018, Feeman Dyson “I kept quiet for thirty years, maybe it is time to speak.”, here.

If it was thirty years ago and you were just as speculative in your proposals, what is something that you would perhaps propose today that you’ve been sitting on? 

I’m thinking a lot about evolution at the moment.

It happens that I corresponded with two heretics on the subject of evolution. Motoo Kimura who was a Japanese biologist and Ursula Goodenough, an American biologist. Both of them had heretical ideas about evolution which I think were probably correct.

I’m preparing a talk which discusses the idea that Darwin was correct up to a point but he didn’t tell us the whole story.

Because the biologists are very defensive about Darwin. If you say anything critical about Darwin you’re regarded as an enemy. It’s a very dangerous subject to tread on. I kept quiet for thirty years so maybe it’s time to speak.

Just to clarify here for our readers, obviously, you’re poking holes in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution but you’re saying it only tells the story up to a certain point. What do you mean by that?  

Well that he believed that evolution was driven by selection. That’s essentially Darwin’s contribution. And it’s true for big populations, but it has limits.

The limits are you need big populations in order for selection to be dominant. If you have small populations, then random drift is actually more important than selection. That’s the Kimura theory. Kimura called it the neutral theory of evolution and he wrote a book about it which was widely ignored by all the orthodox biologists.

But I think he was right. And in fact, it happens that small populations are very important in evolution. In fact, you have to have a small population to start a new species, almost by definition. So small populations have a controlling effect on starting new species and also in the extension of old species.

So this neutral regime where the selection is not important may, in fact, be the real driving force of evolution when you come to a new species. And of course, if that’s true, it changes the picture in many ways.

 

 

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