Gemma De las Cuevas

(My previous name was Gemma De las Cuevas)

I am an Associate Professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) and the PI of this group.

I work on trying to understand the reach of universality & unreachability across disciplines. A good entry point to this topic may be this TEDx talk or this essay. Our latest work is this framework for universality in physics, computer science and beyond. This line of thought made us see local hamiltonians as grammars and classify spin models as languages in the Chomsky hierarchy.

We have recently examined notions of universality in natural languages, including generative grammars, the Universal Grammar, writing systems or Zipf's law.

Some have argued that, because we humans seem to be able to make sense of paradoxes that computers or formal systems can't, our mind is more powerful; we argue that the answer should be more nuanced here.

I believe that considerations about the lack of ultimate closure [cf. Priest's Beyond the limits of thought] bear consequences on what should be considered fundamental in quantum physics, as I argued in this recent chapter.

I also work on mathematical physics topics with Tim Netzer, which can be broadly understood as investigations on the interaction between positivity and the multiplicity of systems. Our latest work is a framework to go beyond operator systems, where we ask for tensor products which are "uniform" in the dimension of the system. We also studied this topic from a computational perspective or border ranks of positive decompositions with symmetry. Other fun things include halos of quantum states (why does quantum mechanics use reals instead of hyperreals?), as well as quantum magic squares (which cannot be "purified") -- see this invitation in The Science Breaker. A good entry point to this topic may be this overview talk or this invitation paper. You can also find more info in the research site of our group and our Youtube channel, where we post video abstracts of our works.

The three most influential books for my research in recent years have been Gödel Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, The beginning of infinity by David Deutsch and Beyond the limits of thought by Graham Priest. My new favourite book is The infinite by A. W. Moore. I am also very impressed by Leibniz! I also seem to love questions in metaphysics.

I am writing a book at the intersection of physics, philosophy and poetry, which is neither fiction nor non-fiction.

You can find more things under sharing. I also (used to) share some of what I'm up to on Twitter.