Connecting Thursdays

A Body of Information

How does our understanding of information impact our knowledge about the world?

In today’s clip from Ideas Roadshow’s TOK Connections Overview Video for Computer Science, University of Oxford and National University of Singapore quantum computer pioneer Prof. Artur Ekert highlights how our new-found appreciation of the inherent physical nature of information has profoundly changed our understanding of what computers are and what they are actually doing.

(Excerpt from TOK Connections Overview Video for Computer Science)

This clip called The Physics of Information is a real-world example of TOK-related thinking in Computer Science which you can use to explicitly integrate TOK into your Computer Science lessons.  Prof. Ekert highlights how appreciating the physical essence of information has influenced our concepts of algorithms, computation and even reality. If your school has access to Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal, make sure to also view the TOK clip called Applied Philosophy and chapters 6-9 of long-format video and enhanced eBook called Cryptoreality, Part. 1.

Interested in learning more about Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP resources to explicitly integrate TOK across the DP curriculum?

Make sure to watch this informational video in the TOK section above – here – which will show you how Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal offers subject teachers a wide range of unique TOK integration materials across 21 DP subjects to incorporate TOK explicitly and easily into their lesson planning.

Ideas Roadshow’s extensive collection of TOK resources enables teachers to quickly and easily invoke a wide range of concrete teaching strategies for the core theme, the five optional themes and AOKs, while providing a wealth of additional student support for both the TOK essay and the TOK exhibition.

If your school does not have an institutional subscription to Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal yet you can now sign up for an individual subscription. Annual individual teacher or student subscriptions cost only $75 and provide unlimited access to all resources. School-wide subscriptions are affordably priced based on the number of DP students in your school.

Extending Wednesdays

Computational Complexity

Today’s Extending Wednesdays topic comes from the Computer Science section of Ideas Roadshow’s Extended Essay Guide, where pioneering “quantum cryptographer” Artur Ekert, Professor of Quantum Physics at University of Oxford & National University of Singapore, describes the notion of computational complexity, a way of objectively distinguishing between “easy” and “hard” mathematical problems.

Well, you might be forgiven for thinking, that is all very interesting in an abstract sort of way, but does it have any real practical value?  The answer turns out to be a resounding “yes” – indeed, it is, quite frankly, hard to think of something that has greater practical value. The entire notion of complexity classes was originally formulated to solve the “key distribution problem” of cryptography and led directly to the development of security protocols that are used to encrypt every current financial transaction on the internet.  

And, as is usually the case for science, developing the idea of computational complexity also helped lead to a whole host of additional intriguing concepts, from quantum algorithms to the very nature of “information”.  

This topic bridges computer science, mathematics and physics.  Possible areas of investigation for an extended essay include an examination of the history of computational complexity, cryptography’s key distribution problem, current public key cryptographic protocols, classical vs. quantum algorithms and quantum cryptography. 

Related Ideas Roadshow content includes the two hour-long videos Cryptoreality Part I and Cryptoreality Part II, as well as the clips The Physics of Information and Applied Philosophy