Blog Profile / Shtetl-Optimized

Filed Under:Academics / Physics
Posts on Regator:223
Posts / Week:0.6
Archived Since:December 19, 2008

Blog Post Archive

My biology paper in Science (really)

Think I’m pranking you, right? Well, you can see the paper right here (“Synthetic recombinase-based state machines in living cells,” by Nathaniel Roquet, Ava P. Soleimany, Alyssa C. Ferris, Scott Aaronson, and Timothy K. Lu).  Unfortunately there’s a paywall, but I think we’ll be able to post our own version before long (will check).  In the […]

The Complexity of Quantum States and Transformations: From Quantum Money to Black Holes

On February 21-25, I taught a weeklong mini-course at the Bellairs Research Institute in Barbados, where I tried to tell an integrated story about everything from quantum proof and advice complexity classes to quantum money to AdS/CFT and the firewall problem—all through the unifying lens of quantum circuit complexity.  After a long effort—on the part […]

ITCS’2017: Special Guest Post by Christos Papadimitriou

The wait is over. Yes, that’s correct: the Call for Papers for the 2017 Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science (ITCS) conference, to be held in Berkeley this coming January 9-11, is finally up.  I attended ITCS’2015 in Rehovot, Israel and had a blast, and will attend ITCS’2017 if logistics permit. But that’s not all: in a […]

“Did Einstein Kill Schrödinger’s Cat? A Quantum State of Mind”

No, I didn’t invent that title.  And no, I don’t know of any interesting sense in which “Einstein killed Schrödinger’s cat,” though arguably there are senses in which Schrödinger’s cat killed Einstein. The above was, however, the title given to a fun panel discussion that Daniel Harlow, Brian Swingle, and I participated in on Wednesday evening, at […]

Leonard Susskind’s Open Letter on “The Lunatic”

In my own anti-Trump post two weeks ago, I started out by mentioning that Terry Tao and Stephen Hawking had recently denounced Trump, and jokingly wondered when we’d hear from Ed Witten.  Well, will Leonard Susskind of Stanford University—a...Show More Summary

Entanglement without end

Today we take a break from this blog’s usual round of topics—free will, consciousness, the Singularity, social justice, Donald Trump—to talk about something really crazy and left-field.  Namely, recent research in quantum information. Show More Summary

Daddy, why didn’t you blog about Trump?

A few days ago, Terry Tao, whose superb blog typically focuses on things like gaps in the primes and finite-time blowup in PDEs, wrote an unusual post, arguing that virtually everyone knows Donald Trump is unqualified to be President, so the challenge is “just” to make that fact common knowledge (i.e., to ensure everyone knows everyone knows it, […]

“Can computers become conscious?”: My reply to Roger Penrose

A few weeks ago, I attended the Seven Pines Symposium on Fundamental Problems in Physics outside Minneapolis, where I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion with Sir Roger Penrose.  The way it worked was, Penrose spoke for a half hour about his ideas about consciousness (Gödel, quantum gravity, microtubules, uncomputability, you know the drill), […]

My Quora session

Here it is.  Enjoy!  (But sorry, no new questions right now.)

Three announcements

(1) When you announce a new result, the worst that can happen is that the result turns out to be wrong, trivial, or already known.  The best that can happen is that the result quickly becomes obsolete, as other people race to improve it.  With my and Adam Yedidia’s work on small Turing machines that […]

The 8000th Busy Beaver number eludes ZF set theory: new paper by Adam Yedidia and me

I’ve supervised a lot of student projects in my nine years at MIT, but my inner nerdy teenager has never been as personally delighted by a project as it is right now.  Today, I’m proud to announce that Adam Yedidia, a PhD student at MIT (but an MEng student when he did most of this work), has […]

“Largely just men doing sums”: My review of the excellent Ramanujan film

[Warning: This movie review contains spoilers, as well as a continued fraction expansion.] These days, it takes an extraordinary occasion for me and Dana to arrange the complicated, rocket-launch-like babysitting logistics involved in going out for a night at the movies. Show More Summary

Me interviewed by John Horgan (the author of “The End of Science”)

You can read it here. It’s long (~12,000 words).  Rather than listing what this interview covers, it would be easier to list what it doesn’t cover.  (My favorite soda flavors?) If you read this blog, much of what I say there will be old hat, but some of it will be new.  I predict that you’ll enjoy […]

Grading Trudeau on quantum computing

The emails starting hitting me like … a hail of maple syrup from the icy north.  Had I seen the news?  Justin Trudeau, the dreamy young Prime Minister of Canada, visited the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, one of my favorite old haunts.  At a news conference at PI, with a math-filled blackboard […]

A postdoc post

I apologize that this announcement is late in this year’s hiring season, but here goes.  I’m seeking postdocs in computational complexity and/or quantum information science to join me at UT Austin starting in Fall of 2016.  As I mentioned before, there’s a wonderful CS theory group at UT that you can work with and benefit from, including Adam […]

Quantum. Crypto. Things happen. I blog.

1. A bunch of people emailed me to ask about the paper “Realization of a scalable Shor algorithm”: a joint effort by the groups of my MIT colleague Ike Chuang and of Innsbruck’s Rainer Blatt.  The paper has been on the arXiv since July, but last week everyone suddenly noticed it because it appeared in Science. Show More Summary

From Boston to Austin

I have some big news—well, not for the world, but for me personally.  Starting this summer, I’ll be leaving MIT, and starting a new phase of my life, as David J. Bruton Jr. Centennial Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin.  I’ll also be the founding director of UT Austin’s new quantum […]

The universe has a high (but not infinite) Sleep Number

As everyone knows, this was a momentous week in the history of science.  And I don’t need to tell you why: the STOC and CCC accepted paper lists finally came out. Haha, kidding!  I meant, we learned this week that gravity waves were directly detected for the first time, a hundred years after Einstein first predicted them […]

“Why does the universe exist?” … finally answered (or dissolved) in this blog post!

In my previous post, I linked to seven Closer to Truth videos of me spouting about free will, Gödel’s Theorem, black holes, etc. etc.  I also mentioned that there was a segment of me talking about why the universe exists that for some reason they didn’t put up.  Commenter mjgeddes wrote, “Would have liked to hear your […]

Here’s some video of me spouting about Deep Questions

In January 2014, I attended an FQXi conference on Vieques island in Puerto Rico.  While there, Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviewed me for his TV program Closer to Truth, which deals with science and religion and philosophy and you get the idea.  Alas, my interview was at the very end of the conference, and we lost track of the time—so […]

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