TQC 2011 and a Bonus! Rant!

So most of my conference announcements are going out on qspeak now (and will be digested every week in a post here.) But since I’m helping out with this one it, I thought I’d post a separate note here. TQC 2011 will be held in Madrid, Spain from May 24 to May 26. The important deadline is January 24, 2011 for submissions. Website here.

Note that TQC has a proceedings (for those who care about the politics of getting a job in a computer science department, the fact that QIP does not have have a proceedings is not good for the field of quantum computing. The lack of best paper and best student paper awards at conferences is even worse. But that’s just silly politics of, you know, getting a job. Does it matter to the science of the conference? No. Does it matter if you don’t want the field to disappear from the face of the earth because universities won’t hire faculty in the area? Probably. Of course people will argue that a QIP proceedings would prohibit STOC and FOCS submissions, but seeing as how exactly one quantum paper made it to FOCS this year…)

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6 Responses to TQC 2011 and a Bonus! Rant!

  1. Pieter Kok says:

    Dave, I think your being overly dramatic. QIP jobs in CS departments will perhaps be harder to get, but jobs in physics departments depend on publications and grant money. I think QIP is doing more than fine in that respect.

    Merry Christmas,
    Pieter.

  2. John Sidles says:

    At the University of Washington (where Dave and I work), the College of Engineering has in the last 30 years created one department, and eliminated one department. The created department was Bioengineering, and the eliminated department was Nuclear Engineering.

    Why was the Nuclear Engineering Department eliminated? (note: this is an entirely separate question from “Should the Nuclear Engineering Department have been eliminated?”). The reason Nuclear Engineering was eliminated was simple: the forecasts of technological progress toward the milestone objectives of nuclear engineering were sadly over-optimistic.

    In retrospect, the progress projected in the 1970s for Bioengineering was moderately over-optimistic … and this optimism was tolerated. But in Nuclear Engineering, the projected progress turned out to be egregiously over-optimistic … and this was fatal.

    In retrospect, we can appreciate that the most valuable achievement of (say) the DOE’s fusion energy program has been, not working fusion reactors (obviously), but rather practical algorithms for simulating complex dynamical systems. These dynamical simulation algorithms now play a transformationally enabling in 2oth century global-scale enterprises.

    Perhaps a decade or two from now, we will similarly recognize that, in retrospect, the most valuable achievement of quantum computing programs has been, not working quantum computers (obviously), but rather practical algorithms for simulating quantum dynamical systems. These dynamical simulation algorithms are now beginning to play a transformationally enabling in 21st century global-scale enterprises.

    Is this outcome what the pioneers of fusion power had in mind? No … but it’s a very good outcome nonetheless. Is this outcome what the pioneers of quantum computing had in mind? Also no … but it’s shaping up to be a very good outcome.

    Indeed, for young people seeking to make careers in quantum systems engineering, it is (arguably) is the best possible outcome. Can anyone (seriously and credibly) propose a better one?

  3. John Sidles says:

    PS: DOE posts similar time-lines for most forms of quantum computing … these timelines are thought-provoking.

  4. John Sidles says:

    Aram says: As for the decline of nuclear engineering, apart from overselling, there’s also (a) the lack of technical progress, and (b) the lack of demand for new power plants.

    Aram, certainly anyone who is familiar with ARDA’s Quantum Information Science and Technology Roadmap, and with the various roadmaps to fusion power that have been proposed over the decades, will be struck by the four similarities that you mention.

    This is not to say that fusion power has not been a terrific R&D investment—it has. My point is simply that the payoff (so far) has been mainly in algorithms, rather than energy produced. And this payoff has a key strategic role: nowadays, essentially all great energy technologies, nowadays, are optimized in simulation, and all energy-dependent enterprises rely upon these simulations to sustain their pace, focus, commitment, and morale.

    Similarly, in QIT/QSE, the payoff (so far) has been mainly in algorithms … and an era is foreseeably coming—arguably, perhaps this era has already arrived—in which all great 21st century enterprises that press against quantum limits will rely upon dynamical simulations to sustain their pace, focus, commitment, and morale.

  5. aram says:

    While it’s frustrating that QIP accepted talks don’t get the respect they deserve in CS-theory circles, it’s also worth noting that CS conference proceedings are in many ways bad for science. The best papers are shoehorned into a rushed 10-page least-publishable-unit format, and the second tier of papers are neglected because people don’t want to fly to Europe for ICALP (or whatever). I like how at QIP you speak only when you have something important to say, and there’s relatively little incentive to oversell your results.

    As for the decline of nuclear engineering, apart from overselling, there’s also (a) the lack of technical progress, and (b) the lack of demand for new power plants. If global CO2 emissions were capped and traded, then I bet the list of engineering departments would look rather different.

  6. Dave Bacon says:

    @Pieter : Me overdramatic? No way 🙂

    But more seriously I think saying “oh they’ll just get jobs in physics” is kind of odd.

    @Aram : I did say it didn’t matter for the science, though I guess I should have said it was bad for the science. Though I would say that for many journals the reviews are as equally worthless, and, of course there are journals that require 4 pages 🙂

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