• Professor
    • Klaas Landsman
    • Radboud University Nijmegen
    • Mathematical physics

Randomness in mathematics and (quantum) physics

Randomness plays a central role in almost every science, especially in quantum mechanics, where it is supposed to be fundamental (that is, not reducible to ignorance). What does mathematics say about this, beyond elementary probability theory? We explore possible links between algorithmic randomness (as introduced by Kolmogorov and others in the 1960s) and randomness of sequences of measurement outcomes in quantum theory, including spectacular links with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems to the effect that most random sequences cannot be proved to be random (Chaitin). This talk should be accessible to bachelor students in mathematics and physics.


Klaas Landsman was originally a theoretical high-energy physicist but has been working in mathematical physics since 1990 and also in mathematics. He was affiliated with the University of Cambridge from 1989-1997 and has been a professor of mathematical physics since 2001, first at the UvA and since 2004 at the RU. His interest in randomness came originally from the study of quantum mechanics but has been considerably broadened in recent years. In 2016, together with the theologian Ellen van Wolde, he organized the Week of Chance in Nijmegen, which also resulted in the Open Access book “The Challenge of Chance” (Springer, 2016). In 2018, his book “Naar alle ONwaarschijnlijkheid: Toeval in de wetenschap en filosofie” was published by Prometheus.

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