Guide Quantum Information Science and Its Contributions to Mathematics

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  1. Publication List
  2. First proof of quantum computer advantage
  3. Quantum Information Science and Its Contributions to Mathematics
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Your take? Many of John Wheeler's students tried to pursue his vision, and were among the researchers who made the first discoveries in the fields of quantum information and quantum computation. This has now turned into a large and fruitful subfield of physics. Is this what John Wheeler envisioned when he said "it from bit"? I don't know. Mathematicians also do research that is not grounded in experiments, but they have had centuries to figure out that a good way to cope with this is to use proofs, and not to trust anything that isn't actually proved rigorously.

They learned this over the years by trial and error, discovering that if you try to do mathematics without relying on rigor, you are likely to be led astray by your intuition. The culture of physics doesn't have this constraint. While the fact that they aren't constrained by needing rigorous proofs has helped physicists make remarkable contributions to several fields of mathematics much more quickly than mathematicians for example, the Dirac delta function in the theory of distributions and the replica method in statistical mechanics , it has also occasionally led them astray.

Steering Chair:

High-energy physicists are now trying to produce new physics without either experiment or proof to guide them, and I don't believe that they have adequate tools in their toolbox to let them navigate this territory. My impression, although I may be wrong about this, is that in the past, one way that physicists made advances is by coming up with all kinds of totally crazy ideas, and keeping only the ones that agreed with experiment.

Now, in high energy physics, they're still coming up with all kinds of totally crazy ideas, but they can no longer compare them with experiments, so which of their ideas get accepted depends on some complicated sociological process, which results in theories of physics that may not bear any resemblance to the real world. This complicated sociological process certainly takes beauty into account, but I don't think that's what is fundamentally leading physicists astray.

Publication List

I think a more important problem is this sociological process leads high-energy physicists to collectively accept ideas prematurely, when there is still very little evidence in favor of them. For a concrete example, Susskind's theory of complementarity, which addressed the black hole information loss paradox, was accepted for many years, until four physicists published the AMPS paper named after its authors' initials showing that Susskind complementarity was not compatible with fundamental principles of quantum information theory.

So in this case, the sociological process led most physicists to converge on a single theory that ultimately turned out to be wrong. Do you agree? Or do you have a favorite interpretation? There are some times when thinking about quantum mechanics using the Copenhagen interpretation will help you figure things out, and there are other times when the many-worlds interpretation is more useful for figuring things out.

Since these two interpretations give the exact same predictions, it doesn't matter which one you use. So you should use whichever gives you the best intuition for the problem you're working on.


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They argue that advances in science are costing more and more, but we still seem to be making progress. Fundamental discoveries in science, that change the foundations of a field, by their very nature cannot be predicted. It's true that we currently have only the vaguest idea about how the brain works, and that we currently don't see any road to improving our knowledge. However, this doesn't really mean anything, as fundamental discoveries in science can come out of nowhere and be completely unpredictable.

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First proof of quantum computer advantage

Horgan: Point taken. The start of this anti-science movement seems to have been rooted in self-interest by large corporations, trying to convince people of things like "tobacco doesn't cause cancer," "coal doesn't cause global warming," "DDT doesn't kill birds. For example, the fact that there is widespread anti-science sentiment has let the anti-vaccination movement arise, which I don't believe has any large corporate sponsors and which most organized religions don't support; this movement is currently undoing some of the great success we have had towards eliminating disease.

Further Reading :. The Horgan Surface and the Death of Proof. Who Discovered the Mandelbrot Set? Is Science Hitting a Wall? Bayes's Theorem: What's the Big Deal? The views expressed are those of the author s and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Quantum Information Science and Its Contributions to Mathematics

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Quantum Computing: Untangling the Hype

See Subscription Options. There are at least two reasons mathematicians look for proofs: a to ensure that the things they claim are actually true, b to gain more understanding into mathematics. Load comments. Get smart. Sign up for our email newsletter. Sign Up. The award ceremony for and prizes will be held on Sept. MIT News Office.

Workshop Organizers

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