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Dr Simon Marais Memorial Lecture

Promoting maths and physics research
Established in 2016 in memory of Dr Simon Marais, this annual lecture honours his interest and commitment to mathematics, theoretical physics and education more broadly.

The University of Sydney was entrusted to continue his passion by his family, bringing world renowned mathematicians and theoretical physicists to the University to inspire our students to pursue mathematics and theoretical physics, strengthen the research community in these fields and engage the general public in these fields of work. The inaugural memorial lecture was held in 2017.

2018 lecture: Decoding spacetime -The quantum computational universe

Watch the live recording of the lecture

Wednesday 5 September, 2018 6pm
Lecture Theatre 4002 (Messel), Sydney Nanoscience Hub

Transcribing human speech. Simulating global climate. Trouncing the world’s best Go players. The amazing versatility of modern computers disguises their fundamental simplicity. They are ultimately just machines for reading, comparing and overwriting bits. In the next few years, though, we will start to leave the world of bits behind. Computers exploiting the strangeness of quantum mechanics will soon accomplish tasks that would defeat even the largest, fastest bit-based supercomputers.

Quantum computation isn’t just a technological advance, though. It could hold the key to explaining the origin of space itself. The same techniques that will be used to protect delicate quantum computer memories from corruption appear to be used by nature to stitch together the fabric of spacetime. This exciting public talk will be a tour of this remarkable confluence of the practical and the fundamental.

Professor Patrick Hayden

About the speaker

Patrick Hayden is a professor in Physics at Stanford University. He is a leader in understanding the connections between information processing and the fundamental laws of physics. His work explores the potential for computers built from microscopic ‘quantum mechanical’ components to quickly solve problems that would defeat even the world’s largest supercomputers. His work is contributing to our understanding of the limits that quantum mechanics places on information processing, and how to exploit quantum effects for computing and other aspects of communication.

Dr Simon Marais

About Dr Simon Marais

Dr Simon Marais was born in a rural town of Upington, South Africa in 1964. After obtaining a Master of Science at Stellenbosch University and a PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge, he brought a compelling new style of ‘contrarian’ investing to the Australian funds management industry.

Working as Founder, Chief Executive and portfolio manager at fund manager Allan Gray Australia, Chairman of Allan Gray South Africa and previously as head of research at the global investment management firm Orbis Group, he built a reputation as the outstanding asset manager of his generation.

Dr Marais was compassionate, humble and passionate about conservation throughout his life. He was committed to teaching his children and would tutor his sons in maths irrespective of how demanding his professional schedule became. A constant source of inspiration to friends, colleagues and the mathematics students he tutored in his spare time, his essential optimism and leadership endures.

Past Lectures

2017: The mathematics of deja vu

Presented by Professor Amie Wilkinson, University of Chicago

Dynamics is an exciting area of mathematics concerned with the motion of spaces ("dynamical systems") over time. It continues to have applications in a wide variety of fields such as physics, biology, chemistry, medicine and economics. Professor Wilkinson answers questions using a mathematical version of déjà vu called 'recurrence'; including how we can mix and unmix two ideal gases in a box and describing the deep properties of the prime numbers or the existence of exoplanets in nearby solar systems.

Watch the lecture