Blog Profile / Shtetl-Optimized

Filed Under:Academics / Physics
Posts on Regator:242
Posts / Week:0.6
Archived Since:December 19, 2008

Blog Post Archive

First they came for the Iranians

I’m sure there were weeks, in February or March 1933, when the educated, liberal Germans commiserated with each other over the latest outrages of their new Chancellor, but consoled themselves that at least none of it was going to affect them personally. This time, it’s taken just five days, since the hostile takeover of the US by its worst […]

A day to celebrate

Today—January 20, 2017—I have something cheerful, something that I’m celebrating.  It’s Lily’s fourth birthday. Happy birthday Lily! As part of her birthday festivities, and despite her packed schedule, Lily has graciously agreed to field a few questions from readers of this blog.  You can ask about her parents, favorite toys, recent trip to Disney World, etc. […]

My 116-page survey article on P vs. NP: better late than never

For those who just want the survey itself, not the backstory, it’s here. Two years ago, I learned that John Nash—that John Nash—was, together with Michail Rassias, editing a volume about the great open problems in mathematics.  And they wanted me to write the chapter about the P versus NP question—a question that Nash himself had […]


Happy New Year, everyone!  I tripped over a well-concealed hole and sprained my ankle while carrying my daughter across the grass at Austin’s New Years festival, so am now ringing in 2017 lying in bed immobilized, which somehow seems appropriate.  At least Lily is fine, and at least being bedridden gives me ample opportunity to […]

“THE TALK”: My quantum computing cartoon with Zach Weinersmith

OK, here’s the big entrée that I promised you yesterday: “THE TALK”: My joint cartoon about quantum computing with Zach Weinersmith of SMBC Comics. Just to whet your appetite: In case you’re wondering how this came about: after our mutual friend Sean Carroll introduced me and Zach for a different reason, the idea of a […]

The teaser

Tomorrow, I’ll have something big to announce here.  So, just to whet your appetites, and to get myself back into the habit of blogging, I figured I’d offer you an appetizer course: some more miscellaneous non-Trump-related news. (1) My former student Leonid Grinberg points me to an astonishing art form, which I somehow hadn’t known about: […]

Quantum computing news (98% Trump-free)

(1) Apparently Microsoft has decided to make a major investment in building topological quantum computers, which will include hiring Charles Marcus and Matthias Troyer among others.  See here for their blog post, and here for the New York Times piece.  In the race to implement QC among the established corporate labs, Microsoft thus joins the Martinis group at […]

A paper trail that’s never checked might as well not exist

Update and Action Item: Just since late this afternoon, the Jill Stein campaign has already raised more than $1 million toward requesting hand recounts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Their target is $2.5 million.  I just donated what I could; if you agree with this post, then please do the same.  It doesn’t matter at […]

Never, never, never normalize this

It’s become depressingly clear the last few days that even most American liberals don’t understand the magnitude of what’s happened.  Maybe those well-meaning liberals simply have more faith than I do in our nation’s institutions, despite the recent overwhelming evidence to the contrary (if the checks and balances couldn’t stop a Trump presidency, then what can they […]

What is there to say?

I’m ashamed of my country and terrified about the future.  When Bush took power in 2000, I was depressed for weeks, but I didn’t feel like I do now, like a fourth-generation refugee in the United States—like someone who happens to have been born here and will presumably continue to live here, unless and until it starts to […]

Time to vote-swap

I blogged about anti-Trump vote-swapping before (and did an interview at Huffington Post with Linchuan Zhang), but now, for my most in-depth look at the topic yet, check out my podcast interview with the incomparable Julia Galef, ofShow More Summary

My 5-minute quantum computing talk at the White House

(OK, technically it was in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is not exactly the White House itself, but is adjacent to the West Wing in the White House complex.  And President Obama wasn’t there—maybe, like Justin Trudeau, he already knows everything about quantum computing?  But lots of people from the Office of Science and Technology […]

May reason trump the Trump in all of us

Two years ago, when I was the target of an online shaming campaign, what helped me through it were hundreds of messages of support from friends, slight acquaintances, and strangers of every background.  I vowed then to return the favor, by standing up when I saw decent people unfairly shamed.  Today I have an opportunity to make good. Some […]

Avi Wigderson’s “Permanent” Impact on Me

The following is the lightly-edited transcript of a talk that I gave a week ago, on Wednesday October 5, at Avi Wigderson’s 60th birthday conference at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  Videos of all the talks (including mine) are now available here. Thanks so much to Sanjeev Arora, Boaz Barak, Ran Raz, Peter […]

Stuff That’s Happened

Hi from FOCS’2016 in scenic New Brunswick, NJ!  (I just got here from Avi Wigderson’s 60th birthday conference, to which I’ll devote another post.) In the few weeks since I last overcame the activation barrier to blog, here are some things that happened. Politics Friday’s revelation, of Trump boasting on tape to George W. Bush’s […]

The No-Cloning Theorem and the Human Condition: My After-Dinner Talk at QCRYPT

The following are the after-dinner remarks that I delivered at QCRYPT’2016, the premier quantum cryptography conference, on Thursday Sep. 15 in Washington DC.  You could compare to my after-dinner remarks at QIP’2006 to see how much I’ve “”matured”” since then. Thanks so much to Yi-Kai Liu and the other organizers for inviting me and for […]

The Ninth Circuit ruled that vote-swapping is legal. Let’s use it to stop Trump.

As regular readers might know, my first appearance in the public eye (for a loose definition of “public eye”) had nothing to do with D-Wave, Gödel’s Theorem, the computational complexity of quantum gravity, Australian printer ads, or—god forbid—social justice shaming campaigns. Show More Summary

Shtetl-Optimized Open Thread

Sorry for a post-free month.  I was completely preoccupied with the logistics of the move to Texas.  But now that I’m finally more-or-less settled on my 1000-acre cattle ranch, with my supply of shotguns and whiskey, I’ve decided to ease myself gently back into blogging, via Shtetl-Optimized‘s first-ever SlateStarCodex-style “Open Thread.”  This is not an […]

More Wrong Things I Said in Papers

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled PostBQP Postscripts, owning up to not one but four substantive mathematical errors that I’d made over the years in my published papers, and which my students and colleagues later brought to my sheepish attention.  Fortunately, none of these errors affected the papers’ main messages; they just […]

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 […]

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