Phys. Rev. Lett. (in the press); arXiv:1512.0499

In quantum computation, the notion of complexity refers to the minimum number of gates needed to prepare a certain state from a reference state. This pragmatic notion has now been related to something more exotic: black hole horizons. More precisely, it has been conjectured that the growth of the volume of a black hole interior is dual to the growth in computational complexity. Adam Brown and colleagues revisited this conjecture and restated it, this time relating complexity to the action of a particular type of spacetime region called a Wheeler–DeWitt patch. In other words, the computational complexity of a boundary relates to the geometry of a bulk region.

There are reasons to believe that the original conjecture, and hence the new one, is likely to be correct. Interestingly, the new conjecture may have deeper implications connecting quantum information and quantum gravity. And it also suggests that black holes could reach the physical limits of computation determined by the fundamental constants. In this sense, black holes are the fastest computers in the known universe.