Montana State University

MSU graduate to speak on ‘The Future of Computation’ March 31

March 28, 2017 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – Mark B. Ritter will deliver a lecture, “The Future of Computation,” as part of the Montana State University’s Department of Physics’ Physics Public Outreach series. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, March 31, at the Museum of the Rockies’ Hager Auditorium.

Ritter will speak about basic physical principles, Moore’s Law and the limitations of traditional computational approaches.

“In the 20th century, computational power increased by a roughly 18 orders of magnitude, or a billion-billion times,” Ritter said. “Now, the smart phone in our pockets is more powerful than the Cray-2 supercomputer built in 1985. There are, however, limits to conventional means of computing.”

Ritter believes that, in order to progress, we need to find new approaches to computational problem solving.

Ritter will review Moore’s Law, which assumes that scientists could continue to fit an ever-increasing number of transistors onto a computer chip, and how basic physical principles will soon make that law obsolete. He will also give an overview of two new approaches to computing: neuromorphic, or cognitive computing, and quantum computing. He will then review both approaches and their feasibility, as well as the likelihood of either approach in overcoming certain difficult problems with conventional computing.

Ritter is a 1981 graduate of MSU’s Department of Physics. He earned master’s degrees in applied physics and philosophy before earning his doctorate in applied physics, all from Yale. He is currently a distinguished research staff member and senior manager of physical sciences at International Business Machine’s T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. He manages four departments, including solid state theory, quantum theory and two departments doing quantum experiments.

The physics department will also offer a professional lecture by Ritter, “Quantum Simulation with Circuit Quantum Electrodynamics,” from 4:10-5 p.m. Friday in Barnard Hall, room 103. This lecture is also open to the public, but is geared toward those with an advanced understanding of physics.

For more information, contact the MSU Department of Physics at (406) 994-3614 or the Museum of the Rockies at (406) 994-2251 or

Contact: Rufus Cone, MSU Department of Physics, (406) 994-6175 or