Around Cornell

News directly from Cornell's colleges and centers

Spring 2024 Bethe Lecture bridges physics and computer science

Artificial intelligence applications perform amazing feats – winning at chess, writing college admission essays, passing bar exams – but the complexity of these systems is so large they rival that of nature, with all the challenges that come with understanding nature.

Lenka Zdeborová

An approach to a better understanding of this computer science puzzle is emerging from an unexpected direction: physics. Lenka Zdeborová, professor of physics and computer science at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, is using methods from theoretical physics to peer inside AI algorithms and answer fundamental questions about how they work and what they can and cannot do.

Zdeborová will visit campus in March to deliver the spring 2024 Bethe Lecture: “Bridging Physics and Computer Science: Understanding Hard Problems,” is Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall.

Zdeborová, who enjoys “erasing boundaries between theoretical physics, mathematics and computer science,” will explore how principles from statistical physics provide insights into challenging computational problems. Through this interdisciplinary lens, she has uncovered phase transitions that delineate the complexity of tasks, distinguishing between those easily tackled by computers and those posing significant challenges.

Read the full story on the College of Arts and Sciences website.

Media Contact

Media Relations Office