Schrodinger's Cats

Serendipity as the source of innovation. How Corvil has learned to think inside and outside the box at the same time!

Serendipity is not a word you get to throw into casual conversation. It is by definition the fortunate discovery of a thing that was not sought. To my mind it is the random coincidence of times and places that allows a particular observer to derive insight from these events.

That is a bit abstract so let me tell you a story.

After many years providing the idyllic home Christmas my daughter and I decided that my better half Greta needed a Christmas away from the kitchen. We decided that snow was the essential ingredient and without any further criteria our daughter Sara picked out this charming alpine village in Austria by the name of Alpbach. It was only after booking flights and accommodation that I found the time to check out this village and came upon the fact that Erwin Schrodinger is buried there in the church cemetery. Today Schrodinger is better known for his thoughts on the existence of cats but his Nobel Prize for Physics (1933) was a result of his famous wave equation. As an engineering student in Dublin it seemed to me a neat and elegant derivation which established the wave-particle duality of quantum mechanics. This equation remains a significant milestone in the understanding of subatomic physics and I was delighted to learn that Schrodinger had seen out the later part of his career as the first professor of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS). Founded in 1940, it offered Schrodinger a refuge from an increasingly dangerous environment in Berlin. He cut a dashing figure landing in Dublin with both his wife and mistress in tow. I remember my father telling me of the stylish bespoke suits in continental styles that he would order from his menswear shop in Dublin.

The founding team behind Corvil are all alumni of the same DIAS research school and indeed the late Professor John Lewis occupied the same chair of Theoretical Physics as Schrodinger.

The cemetery at Alpbach is a beautiful resting place and local residents have a custom to ensure that every evening there is a lighted candle on each grave. We took the opportunity to leave our own candles on his grave and the next afternoon I noticed these two fine white cats on a balcony overlooking the cemetery.

I wondered if it were possible that in a parallel universe two cats in white lab coats had just discovered a wave function to describe the quantum behaviour of particles in their subatomic world. In order to explain this to all the other cats they may also have devised a thought experiment.

What if we put a physicist into a box with a quantity of radioactive atoms and some poison?"

In feline mathematics there is the added complication that the probability function must be able to calculate from which of the nine life cycle stages our physicist might emerge.

At Corvil we take a more pragmatic view on how to provide the best software solutions. In the main, we listen to our customers, devise product strategies and deliver the best analytics software engines we can possibly build.

Sometimes however, it is the case that sitting on the shoulders of giants we need to extend our vision further. It is only by considering what might at first seem highly improbable (analysis of nanosecond machine actions) that we arrive at the invention of what is not currently being sought, but becomes vital in our modern world of machine learning, artificial intelligence and algorithmic business processes. Serendipity.

Shane Minogue

Shane Minogue, Senior Sales Engineer
Pico is a leading provider of technology services for the financial markets community. Pico provides a best-in-class portfolio of innovative, transparent, low-latency markets solutions coupled with an agile and expert service delivery model. Instant access to financial markets is provided via PicoNetâ„¢, a globally comprehensive network platform instrumented natively with Corvil analytics and telemetry. Clients choose Pico when they want the freedom to move fast and create an operational edge in the fast-paced world of financial markets.