Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine

  • Posted on: 24 June 2002
  • By: ashok

The Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence website that covers relevant major science and technology breakthroughs has reprinted Danny Hillis' paper Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine. The paper was originally published February 1989 in Physics Today.

Nobel prize winner physicist Richard Feynman played a critical role in developing the first parallel-processing computer and finding innovative uses for it in numerical computing and building neural networks as well as physical simulation with cellular-automata (such as turbulent fluid flow), working with Stephen Wolfram.

One day when I was having lunch with Richard Feynman, I mentioned to him that I was planning to start a company to build a parallel computer with a million processors. His reaction was unequivocal, "That is positively the dopiest idea I ever heard." For Richard a crazy idea was an opportunity to either prove it wrong or prove it right. Either way, he was interested. By the end of lunch he had agreed to spend the summer working at the company.
Read the full paper.