The first four chapters of Feynman Lectures on Computation cover standard computer science topics: computer organization, theory of computing, and theory of coding and information. Although they're written with Feynman's characteristic wit and insight, as a computer scientist I found them to be somewhat unexceptional. The fifth chapter is about the deeper relationship between physics and computation: in principle computation can be performed with no loss of energy, but it must be performed infinitely slowly; energy must be expended to compute at a given speed. Chapter six is the one that initially got me interested in this book: it's about quantum computing. Unfortunately it was over my head -- it assumes that the reader knows some of the math behind quantum mechanics. I found the final chapter to be fascinating: it explains some of the physics behind semiconductor logic. Because Feynman was an amazing writer and lecturer I was interested to see what he had to say about computing; this is a pretty interesting book but it's certainly not one of his major contributions.
copyright © 2000 John Regehr