David Deutsch

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David Deutsch

David Deutsch.jpg
David Deutsch in 2015
David Elieser Deutsch

(1953-05-18) 18 May 1953 (age 65)[1]
Haifa, Israel
EducationWilliam Ellis School
Alma materClare College, Cambridge (BA)
Wolfson College, Oxford (PhD)
Known for
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics
Quantum information science
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
Clarendon Laboratory
ThesisBoundary effects in quantum field theory (1978)
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral studentsArtur Ekert[2]

David Elieser Deutsch FRS[6] (/dɔɪ/; born 18 May 1953)[1] is an Israeli-born British physicist at the University of Oxford. He is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Atomic and Laser Physics at the Centre for Quantum Computation (CQC) in the Clarendon Laboratory of the University of Oxford. He pioneered the field of quantum computation by formulating a description for a quantum Turing machine, as well as specifying an algorithm designed to run on a quantum computer.[7] He is a proponent of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.[8]

Deutsch has expounded a new criterion for scientific explanation, which is to formulate invariants: 'State an explanation [publicly, so that it can be dated and verified by others later] that remains invariant [in the face of apparent change, new information, or unexpected conditions]'.[9]

A bad explanation is easy to vary. —David Deutsch[9]: minute 11:22

The search for hard to vary explanations is the origin of all progress. —David Deutsch[9]: minute 15:05

That "the truth consists of hard to vary assertions about reality" is the most important fact about the physical world. —David Deutsch[9]: minute 16:15

Early life and education[edit]

Deutsch was born in Haifa in Israel on 18 May 1953, the son of Oskar and Tikva Deutsch. He attended William Ellis School in Highgate, north London (then a voluntary aided grammar school) before reading Natural Sciences at Clare College, Cambridge and taking Part III of the Mathematical Tripos. He went on to Wolfson College, Oxford for his doctorate in theoretical physics[3] and wrote his thesis on quantum field theory in curved space-time[1][5] supervised by Dennis Sciama[2] and Philip Candelas.[3][10]

Career and research[edit]

His work on quantum algorithms began with a ground-breaking 1985 paper,[7] later expanded in 1992 along with Richard Jozsa to produce the Deutsch–Jozsa algorithm, one of the first examples of a quantum algorithm that is exponentially faster than any possible deterministic classical algorithm.

Together with Chiara Marletto, he published a paper in December 2014 entitled Constructor theory of information,[11] that conjectures that information can be expressed solely in terms of which transformations of physical systems are possible and which are impossible. He is currently (since 2012)[12][13] working on constructor theory,[11] an attempt at generalizing the quantum theory of computation to cover not just computation but all physical processes.[14][15] His nomination for election as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2008, his contributions were described as having... :[6]

... laid the foundations of the quantum theory of computation, and has subsequently made or participated in many of the most important advances in the field, including the discovery of the first quantum algorithms, the theory of quantum logic gates and quantum computational networks, the first quantum error-correction scheme, and several fundamental quantum universality results. He has set the agenda for worldwide research efforts in this new, interdisciplinary field, made progress in understanding its philosophical implications (via a variant of the many-universes interpretation) and made it comprehensible to the general public, notably in his book The Fabric of Reality.

In 1996 he appeared in the BBC Horizon programme.[16]

The Fabric of Reality[edit]

In his 1997 book The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch details his "Theory of Everything." It aims not at the reduction of everything to particle physics, but rather mutual support among multiversal, computational, epistemological, and evolutionary principles. His theory of everything is somewhat emergentist rather than reductive. There are four strands to his theory:

  1. Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, "the first and most important of the four strands."
  2. Karl Popper's epistemology, especially its anti-inductivism and requiring a realist (non-instrumental) interpretation of scientific theories, as well as its emphasis on taking seriously those bold conjectures that resist falsification.
  3. Alan Turing's theory of computation, especially as developed in Deutsch's Turing principle, in which the Universal Turing machine is replaced by Deutsch's universal quantum computer. ("The theory of computation is now the quantum theory of computation.")
  4. Richard Dawkins's refinement of Darwinian evolutionary theory and the modern evolutionary synthesis, especially the ideas of replicator and meme as they integrate with Popperian problem-solving (the epistemological strand).

The Beginning of Infinity[edit]

Deutsch's second book, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World, was published on 31 March 2011. In this book Deutsch views the Enlightenment of the 18th century as near the beginning of a potentially unending sequence of purposeful knowledge creation. He examines the nature of memes and how and why creativity evolved in humans.[17]

Awards and honours[edit]

Deutsch was awarded the Dirac Prize of the Institute of Physics in 1998,[18] and the Edge of Computation Science Prize in 2005.[18][19] The Fabric of Reality was shortlisted for the Rhone-Poulenc science book award in 1998.[20] In 2017 he received the Dirac Medal of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).[21] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2008.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Deutsch is an atheist.[22] He is also a founding member of the parenting and educational method known as Taking Children Seriously.[23]


  1. ^ a b c Deutsch, Prof. David Elieser. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2014 (April 2014 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 26 July 2014. closed access publication – behind paywall
  2. ^ a b c David Deutsch at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ a b c Deutsch, David Elieser (1978). Boundary effects in quantum field theory. bodleian.ox.ac.uk (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.453518.
  4. ^ a b Deutsch, David. The beginning of infinity : explanations that transform the world. Allen Lane. ISBN 9780713992748.
  5. ^ a b Peach, Filiz (2000). "David Deutsch". Philosophy Now. Interview. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Anon (2008). "Professor David Deutsch FRS". royalsociety.org. London: Royal Society. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

  7. ^ a b Deutsch, David (1985). "Quantum theory, the Church-Turing principle and the universal quantum computer". Proceedings of the Royal Society A. 400 (1818): 97–117. Bibcode:1985RSPSA.400...97D. doi:10.1098/rspa.1985.0070.
  8. ^ David Deutsch publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  9. ^ a b c d David Deutsch (October 2009) "A new way to explain explanation" TED talk
  10. ^ Deutsch, David; Candelas, Philip (1979). "Boundary effects in quantum field theory". Physical Review D. 20 (12): 3063–3080. Bibcode:1979PhRvD..20.3063D. doi:10.1103/physrevd.20.3063.
  11. ^ a b Deutsch, D.; Marletto, C. (2014). "Constructor theory of information". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 471 (2174): 20140540–20140540. arXiv:1405.5563. Bibcode:2014RSPSA.47140540D. doi:10.1098/rspa.2014.0540. ISSN 1364-5021. PMC 4309123. PMID 25663803. open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ Heaven, Douglas (6 November 2012). "Theory of everything says universe is a transformer". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  13. ^ Merali, Zeeya (26 May 2014). "A Meta-Law to Rule Them All: Physicists Devise a "Theory of Everything"". Scientific American. Nature Publishing Group. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  14. ^ Anon (2012). "Constructor Theory: A Conversation with David Deutsch". edge.org.
  15. ^ Deutsch, D. and Marletto, C.; "Why we need to reconstruct the universe", New Scientist, 24 May 2014, Pages 30-31.
  16. ^ David Deutsch on IMDb
  17. ^ David Deutsch at TED Edit this at Wikidata
  18. ^ a b Deutsch, David (2016). "About Me". daviddeutsch.org.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  19. ^ Edge of Computation Science Prize Archived 9 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Deutsch, David. "The Fabric of Reality". daviddeutsch.org.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Dirac Medal of ICTP 2017". www.ictp.it.
  22. ^ David Deutsch entry, Celeb atheists website, 30 March 2005. Accessed Jan 2015
  23. ^ Friedman, Dawn (2003). "Taking Children Seriously: A new child-rearing movement believes parents should never coerce their kids". UTNE Reader. Ogden Publications, Inc. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
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