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):
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!

12 Replies to “Halifax Off A Bit”

  1. 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. 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.

  3. At least you nailed that “obligatory crappy cell phone picture” thingie.
    RE: parade. wtf indeed. Maybe kicking off the xmas retail season..??
    Who knows.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. 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”

  7. 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”

  8. 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. 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?

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