Announcement one: The NSF has a new initiative to try to address the lack of tenured faculty (particularly in computer science departments) involved in quantum computation research. CISE-MPS Interdisciplinary Faculty Program in Quantum Information
The initiative provides a paid sabbatical year to interested tenured faculty to visit a strong quantum computing group, so that can reposition their research interests. The rationale behind the solicitation is to increase the number of tenured researchers in quantum computation, but also to break through the "quantum skepticism" in faculty hiring decisions in those departments where there are no faculty actively involved in quantum computing research.
Announcement two: In support of this program, Carl Williams (a physicist working in Quantum Information who put together the US Vision for Quantum Information Science for the Office of the President) and Umesh have put together a workshop where interested individuals can learn about the initiative, the field and make contacts with people from the major quantum computing centers: see here.
The initiative comes at a particularly opportune moment for researchers in complexity theory, given the increasing relevance of quantum techniques in complexity theory --- the 2-4 norm paper of Barak, et al (SDPs, Lasserre), exponential lower bounds for TSP polytope via quantum communication complexity arguments (See Drucker and de Wolf paper Quantum proofs for classical theorems for several apps of Q to Complexity, and see
here for the TSP polytope result)
quantum Hamiltonian complexity as a generalization of CSPs, lattice-based cryptography whose security is based on quantum arguments, etc.
MY COMMENTS: Umesh gives as a reason quantum is important its uses in other parts of complexity theory. While that is certainly good there are other intellectual reasons why Quantum is worth studying.
- Factoring is in Quantum P! There are MANY problems (maybe 10) where Quantum seemsto be faster than classical. I wouldn't really want to push this point sincequantum computer aren't build yet. More generally, if one claims a field is validfor real practical value, those arguments may become less believable over time.
- Quantum computing can be used to simulate quantum systems- I think this was one of the original motivations.
- Quantum computing is valuable for a better understanding of Physics.
This was first told to be my Fred Green (A Physics PhD who went into computer science)and I made it the subject ofthis blog entry.
I like his quote so much that I will quote it here
Learning quantum computing helped me understand quantum mechanicsbetter. As a physicist I never thought about measurement theoryor entanglement, which were foundational issues, irrelevantto what was doing. In quantum computing, we reason about thesethings all the time.
Over the years others have told me similar things.
Side note: The word Quantum is mostly misused in popular culture. Quantum Leap meant a big leapwhen actually quantum means small. The James Bond movie Quantum of Solace used it correctlybut was an awful movie. Oh well.