The Quantum Pontiff

Halifax Off A Bit

I’m in Halifax, Nova Scotia…eh. For some reason they have a parade at night in November with floats containing Santa and reindeer (obligatory crappy cell phone picture to follow):
i-a75000fd81d5f4f0b7e72db2292aef64-halifax.jpg
Yeah, what the hell?

Interesting conference, I’m attending. I haven’t been at a conference in ages where disagreed with so many of the talks!

For example, I learned that many many people have got it all wrong and quantum error isn’t possible because we haven’t thought about the role of phase errors properly (sadly I didn’t get to hear about the twin paradox.) I also learned form an older, well established researcher, that quantum computing is all bullshit because none of the quantum mechanics books he looked at mentioned the word entanglement. This was a new argument for me: proof by “it’s not in my books!” There was also “argument by von Neuman,” “argument by radar,” “argument by Bohm-de Broglie,” (an aristocratic communist argument?) and “argument by appeal to a dead person.” Woot!

But it wasn’t all crazy wacky, so I am enjoying myself in my curmudgeonly way, and am happy that the organizers invited me to speak (even if I made a big boo boo in two of my slides, doh.) Plus now I can say I’ve actually set foot in the Atlantic time zone!

Comments

  1. #1 John Sidles
    November 15, 2008

    Dave, I would be especially interested in noise-related presentations and articles that you consider good. Because in any optimistic future for quantum system science that I can envision, high-quality noise-related research plays an important role.

  2. #2 ...tom...
    November 15, 2008

    At least you nailed that “obligatory crappy cell phone picture” thingie.

    RE: parade. wtf indeed. Maybe kicking off the xmas retail season..??

    Who knows.

    …tom…

  3. #3 DG
    November 16, 2008

    That’s why I’m always wary of single-author papers I see on the arxiv. I can just imagine them sitting alone in their little cabins in the woods, proving the Riemann hypothesis…

  4. #4 Boris
    November 16, 2008

    “The 13th Annual Chronicle Herald Holiday Parade of Lights will go on as scheduled tonight at 6:00 pm in Downtown Halifax!”

    eh!

    from http://www.downtownhalifax.ns.ca/

  5. #5 Barry Sanders
    November 16, 2008

    I am sure you would be comfortable with mainstream quantum information meetings in Canada. It seems that the nanoelectronics researchers want a different perspective. I feel like I sat through a conference on biological evolution with a majority of speakers pro-creationist.
    -barry

  6. #6 Ian Durham
    November 16, 2008

    Dave: Ah, so you were in Halifax with Barry, eh? As I told Barry on Facebook, you’re practically a ferry ride away from my neck of the woods (the ferry is the CAT and the Gulf of Maine in November is pretty rough so I don’t think it is running).

    Unrelated note: Maine almost switched to the Atlantic time zone a couple of years ago.

    DG: I do not own a cabin in the woods nor have I ever claimed to have solved the Riemann hypothesis.

  7. #7 John Sidles
    November 16, 2008

    DG says: I’m always wary of single-author papers I see on the arxiv.

    That is a useful rule of thumb, but it has some important exceptions. For example, Carlton Caves’ page [1] of his self-authored “internal reports” is outstanding and (IMHO) deserves to be more widely known … these write-ups contain plenty of gems of math and physics.

    [1] “http://info.phys.unm.edu/~caves/reports/reports.html”

  8. #8 matt
    November 16, 2008

    DG: I strongly disagree. At least, that’s a terrible rule to apply when it comes to _evaluating_ a person’s research contributions. I see many applications that have only papers with many co-authors, and this leaves me completely unable to determine the ability of the person to carry out original research on their own. I hear comments like “but we have to hire X. X co-authored a paper with so-and-so.” But, so-and-so has been working in this specific area for a long time, and so-and-so is perfectly capable of doing everything in this paper (which is why so-and-so is indeed so-and-so), so how do we know if X actually did anything? Reference letters from so-and-so aren’t worth much, as one realizes once one has compared the letters so-and-so wrote about X and Y. As for Ian Durham, though, I know exactly what he’s done…I can just look it up! That’s great!

  9. #9 John Sidles
    November 16, 2008

    Inspired by the above posts, and just for fun, I have just now completed an exercise in “algorithm mining” that was deliberately restricted to single-author documents.

    Let’s begin with Carlton Caves’ (single-author) internal report Symmetric informationally complete POVMs [1].

    If we arrange Caves’ Ψ states as the columns of a matrix, then it is clear (by Caves’ eq. 2) that the result has the restricted isometry property (RIP) of Michael Lamoureux’ (single-author) Tutorial on compressive sampling [2].

    If we then consider the problem of learning (by measurement) quantum density matrices that are sparse in some basis, we find a practical application waiting in Ilya Kuprov’s recent (single-author) JMR article Polynomially scaling spin dynamics II: Further state-space compression using Krylov subspace techniques and zero track elimination [3].

    This is fun! Perhaps one lesson of this exercise (assuming there are any lessons at all) is that single-author works tend to focus upon a single idea or narrative, which makes them easier to read, and hence, more suited to algorithm-mining exercises like the above.

    Also, this exercise illustrates how the literature in quantum information science is has begun to exhibit tendencies (in my opinion anyway) toward a mathematically natural unification.

    [1] “http://info.phys.unm.edu/~caves/reports/infopovm.pdf”
    [2] “http://www.cspg.org/conventions/abstracts/2008abstracts/171.pdf”
    [3] “http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/~kuprov/science.shtml”

  10. #10 Pieter Kok
    November 16, 2008

    Maybe Jon Dowling can educate this guy.

  11. #11 anandi
    November 16, 2008

    I’m still jealous you got to go to Halifax. It’s on my “places I’m really curious about but I’m not sure why” list.

    Re: holiday parade, driving back home on 520 yesterday, we saw a house by the freeway that had a giant sparkly Christmas tree in the window. Seems a bit early, doesn’t it?