Quantum Thought Leaders

The violent insurrection now unfolding in Washington DC is precisely the thing you called me nuts, accused me of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” for warning about since 2016. Crazy me, huh, always seeing brownshirts around the corner? And you called the other side violent anarchists? This is all your doing. So... Read more
Published on: 2021-01-06
My last post about covid vaccines felt like shouting uselessly into the void … at least until Patrick Collison, the cofounder of Stripe and a wonderful friend, massively signal-boosted the post by tweeting it. This business is of such life-and-death urgency right now, and a shift in attitude or a... Read more
Published on: 2021-01-02
I hope everyone is enjoying a New Years’ as festive as the circumstances allow! I’ve heard from a bunch of you awaiting my next post on the continuum hypothesis, and it’s a-comin’, but I confess the new, faster-spreading covid variant is giving me the same sinking feeling that Covid 1.0... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-31
Young noblemen used to undertake a “Grand Tour” during the 1600s and 1700s. Many of the tourists hailed from England, though well-to-do compatriots traveled from Scandinavia, Germany, and the United States. The men had just graduated from university—in many cases, … Continue reading →... Read more
The US is now a failed democracy, with a president who’s considering declaring martial law to avoid conceding a lost election, and with the majority of his party eager to follow him arbitrarily far into the abyss. Even assuming, as I do, that the immediate putsch will fail, the Republic... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-22
Two weeks ago, I blogged about the striking claim, by the group headed by Chaoyang Lu and Jianwei Pan at USTC in China, to have achieved quantum supremacy via BosonSampling with 50-70 detected photons. I also did a four-part interview on the subject with Jonathan Tennenbaum at Asia Times, and... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-16
The other day Dana and I finished watching The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix’s fictional saga of an orphaned girl in the 1960’s, Beth Harmon, who breaks into competitive chess and destroys one opponent after the next in her quest to become the world champion, while confronting her inner demons and addictions. The show... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-14
Inspired by my survey article, John Pavlus has now published an article on Busy Beaver for Quanta magazine. This week, I flitted back and forth between two virtual conferences: the Institute for Advanced Study’s Online Workshop on Qubits and Black Holes (which I co-organized with Juan Maldacena and Mark Van... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-11
Upbeat advertisement: If research in QC theory or CS theory otherwise is your thing, then wouldn’t you like to live in peaceful, quiet, bicycle-based Davis, California, and be a faculty member at the large, prestigious, friendly university known as UC Davis? In the QCQI sphere, you’d have Marina Radulaski, Bruno Nachtergaele, Martin Fraas, Mukund Rangamani, Veronika Hubeny, and Nick... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-07
A group led by Jianwei Pan, based mainly in Hefei and Shanghai, announced today that it achieved BosonSampling with 40-70 detected photons—up to and beyond the limit where a classical supercomputer could feasibly verify the results. (Technically, they achieved a variant called Gaussian BosonSampling, related to what I called Scattershot... Read more
Published on: 2020-12-03
I used to eat lunch at the foundations-of-quantum-theory table.  I was a Masters student at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where I undertook a research project during the spring term. The project squatted on the border between quantum information … Continue reading →... Read more
While a lot of pain is still ahead, this year I’m thankful that a dark chapter in American history might be finally drawing to a close. I’m thankful that the mRNA vaccines actually work. I’m thankful that my family has remained safe, and I’m thankful for all the essential workers... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-26
For the past month, I’ve been reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to my 7-year-old daughter Lily. Is she too young for it? Is there a danger that she’ll slip up and say the n-word in school? I guess so, maybe. But I found it worthwhile just for the understanding... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-23
Hook ’em Hadamards! If you’re a prospective PhD student: Apply here for the CS department (the deadline this year is December 15th), here for the physics department (the deadline is December 1st), or here for the ECE department (the deadline is 15th). GREs are not required this year because of... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-19
Since I’m now feeling better that the first authoritarian coup attempt in US history will probably sort itself out OK, here’s a real problem: Nearly a score years ago, I created the Complexity Zoo, a procrastination project turned encyclopedia of complexity classes. Nearly half a score years ago, the Zoo... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-12
There are people who really, genuinely, believe, as far as you can dig down, that winning is everything—that however many lies they told, allies they betrayed, innocent lives they harmed, etc. etc., it was all justified by the fact that they won and their enemies lost. Faced with such sociopaths,... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-09
(1) A friend commented that Biden’s victory becomes more impressive after you contemplate the enthusiasm gap: Trump’s base believed that Trump was sent by God to fight Satanic pedophiles, whereas Biden’s base believed that Biden probably wasn’t a terrible human being. I replied that what we call the “Enlightenment” was... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-08
The title of this post is not an allegory. At 10am this morning, I had a previously-scheduled appointment with an oral surgeon to remove a large, hideous, occasionally painful growth on the inside of my lower lip. (I’d delayed getting it looked at for several months because of covid, but... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-06
Lily, my 7-year-old, asked me to share the above on my blog. She says it depicts the US Army luring Trump out of the White House with a hamburger, in order to lock the front door once he’s out—what she proposes should happen if Trump refuses to acknowledge a loss.... Read more
Published on: 2020-11-03
A global pandemic, apocalyptic fires, and the possible descent of the US into violent anarchy three days from now can do strange things to the soul. Bertrand Russell—and if he’d done nothing else in his long life, I’d love him forever for it—once wrote that “in adolescence, I hated life... Read more
Published on: 2020-10-31