PerspectivePHYSICS/COMPUTER SCIENCE

Passing Messages Between Disciplines

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Science  19 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5640, pp. 1685-1686
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086309

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Summary

Problems in computer science, such as error correction in information transfer and "satisfiability" in optimization, show phase transitions familiar from solid-state physics. In his Perspective, Mézard explains how recent advances in these three fields originate in similar "message passing" procedures. The exchange of elaborate messages between different variables and constraints, used in the study of phase transitions in physical systems, helps to make error correction and satisfiability codes more efficient.