TQC 2014!

While many of us are just recovering from QIP, I want to mention that the submission deadline is looming for the conference TQC, which perhaps should be called TQCCC because its full name is Theory of Quantum Computation, Communication and Cryptography. Perhaps this isn’t done because it would make the conference seem too classical? But TQQQC wouldn’t work so well either. I digress.
The key thing I want to mention is the imminent 15 Feb submission deadline.
I also want to mention that TQC is continuing to stay ahead of the curve with its open-access author-keeps-copyright proceedings, and this year with some limited open reviewing (details here). I recently spoke to a doctor who complained that despite even her Harvard Medical affiliation, she couldn’t access many relevant journals online. While results of taxpayer-funded research on drug efficacy, new treatments and risk factors remain locked up, at least our community is ensuring that anyone wanting to work on the PPT bound entanglement conjecture will be able to catch up to the research frontier without having to pay $39.95 per article.
One nice feature about these proceedings is that if you later want to publish a longer version of your submission in a journal, then you will not face any barriers from TQC. I also want to explicitly address one concern that some have raised about TQC, which is that the published proceedings will prevent authors from publishing their work elsewhere. For many, the open access proceedings will be a welcome departure from the usual exploitative policies of not only commercial publishers like Elsevier, but also the academic societies like ACM and IEEE. But I know that others will say “I’m happy to sign your petitions, but at the end of the day, I still want to submit my result to PRL” and who am I to argue with this?
So I want to stress that submitting to TQC does not prevent submitting your results elsewhere, e.g. to PRL. If you publish one version in TQC and a substantially different version (i.e. with substantial new material) in PRL, then not only is TQC fine with it, but it is compatible with APS policy which I am quoting here:

Similar exceptions [to the prohibition against double publishing] are generally made for work disclosed earlier in abbreviated or preliminary form in published conference proceedings. In all such cases, however, authors should be certain that the paper submitted to the archival
journal does not contain verbatim text, identical figures or tables, or other copyrighted materials which were part of the earlier publications, without providing a copy of written permission from the copyright holder. [ed: TQC doesn’t require copyright transfer, because it’s not run by people who want to exploit you, so you’re all set here] The paper must also contain a substantial body of new material that was not included in the prior disclosure. Earlier relevant published material should, of course, always be clearly referenced in the new submission.

I cannot help but mention that even this document (the “APS Policy on Prior Disclosure”) is behind a paywall and will cost you $25 if your library doesn’t subscribe. But if you really want to support this machine and submit to PRL or anywhere else (and enjoy another round of refereeing), TQC will not get in your way.
Part of what makes this easy is TQC’s civilized copyright policy (i.e. you keep it). By contrast, Thomas and Umesh had a more difficult, though eventually resolved, situation when combining STOC/FOCS with Nature.

Why medicine needs scirate.com

Defenders of the traditional publishing model for medicine say that health-related claims need to be vetted by a referee process. But there are heavy costs. In quantum information, one might know the proof of a theorem (e.g. the Quantum Reverse Shannon Theorem) for years without publishing it. But one would rarely publish using data that is itself secret. Unfortunately, this is the norm in public health. It’s ironic that the solution to the 100-year-old Poincaré conjecture was posted on arxiv.org and rapidly verified, while research on fast-moving epidemics like H5N1 (bird flu) is
delayed so that scientists who control grants can establish priority.
All this is old news. But what I hadn’t realized is that the rest of science needs not only arxiv.org, but also scirate.com. Here is a recent and amazing, but disturbingly common, example of scientific fraud. A series of papers were published with seemingly impressive results, huge and expensive clinical trials were planned based on these papers, while other researchers were privately having trouble replicating the results, or even making sense of the plots. But when they raised their concerns, here’s what happened (emphasis added):

In light of all this, the NCI expressed its concern about what was going on to Duke University’s administrators. In October 2009, officials from the university arranged for an external review of the work of Dr Potti and Dr Nevins, and temporarily halted the three trials. The review committee, however, had access only to material supplied by the researchers themselves, and was not presented with either the NCI’s exact concerns or the problems discovered by the team at the Anderson centre. The committee found no problems, and the three trials began enrolling patients again in February 2010.

As with the Schön affair, there were almost comically many lies, including a fake “Rhodes scholarship in Australia” (which you haven’t heard of because it doesn’t exist) on one of the researcher’s CVs. But what if they lied only slightly more cautiously?
By contrast, with scirate.com, refutations of mistaken papers can be quickly crowdsourced. If you know non-quantum scientists, go forth and spread the open-science gospel!

The first SciRate flame war

Maybe it’s not a war, but it is at least a skirmish.
The first shot was fired by a pseudonymous user named gray, who apparently has never scited any papers before and just arrived to bash an author of this paper for using a recommendation engine to… cue the dramatic musicrecommend his own paper!
In an effort to stem this and future carnage, I’m taking to the quantum pontiff bully pulpit. This is probably better suited for the SciRate blog, but Dave didn’t give me the keys to that one.
Since it wasn’t obvious to everyone: SciRate is not a place for trolls to incite flame wars. Use the comments section of this post if you want to do that. (Kidding.) Comments on SciRate should have reasonable scientific merit, such as (at minimum) recommending a paper that was overlooked in the references, or (better) posting questions, clarifications, additional insights, etc. As an example, look at some of the excellent substantive comments left by prolific scirater Matt Hastings, or this discussion.
Nor is SciRate the place for insipid dull self-promotional comments and/or gibberish.
Now to make things fun, let’s have a debate in the comments section about the relative merits of introducing comment moderation on SciRate. Who is for it, who is against it, and what are the pros and cons? And who volunteers to do the moderating?
As for “gray” or any other troll out there: if you want to atone for your sins, my quantum confessional booth is always open.

What To Do With Scirate?

One interesting thing about quantum computing is that because it is a very new field, a large amount of the research in the field is on the arXiv (interestingly the worst users have historically been computer scientists.) Back in 2006 whenever I would sit around BSing about the arXiv with other quantum computing people, the idea of improvements that would bring the arXiv more up to date would come up. After hearing repeatedly about such ideas, in January 2007, I got fed up of hearing about these ideas and so I sat down and wrote scirate.com, a Digg-like front end for the arXiv. Okay well mostly I did it to learn PHP and Python. Oh, and because coding is fun and I can actually succeed at it as opposed to opened ended research which if hard. Also I did it because I hated spending time filtering through the arXiv each day and wanted to use the power of group knowledge to help save me time. I figure if I add up the time Scirate has saved me versus the time spent reading it I’m pretty close to having gained time. What you didn’t know the point of this blog is to slow down all you competing quantum researchers and thus effectively increase my own effective research speed? 🙂
After some initial development, however, I mostly stopped working on Scirate. Why? Well first of all because I didn’t think I’d succeeded in a very elegant way. Second there was never much traction: there is a group of quantum computing theorists who use scirate fairly often, but outside of that it is not widely used (though there are around a thousand users signed up.) Probably this is also because the development of scirate was essentially closed, consisting of me, hacking away in his spare time. Third, well this thing called a “real job” called (but I keep getting this “hold” music, heh.) I am, however, very proud that until last week, I basically haven’t had to touch the website in any way (last week my host moved Scirates server and didn’t copy over my crontab jobs, thus there is a day missing where I didn’t catch this) besides fixing a few double votes (that occur via a mechanism I’ve never been able to track down.)
So now the question is: what should I do with Scirate?
Some things I’ve been thinking about.

  • One problem with Scirate is it’s closed nature. Thus it seems that it would be useful to open up an API for Scirate, allowing for its integrated functionality in other Science 2.0 websites. Indeed I’ve been thinking a bit about a very general framework for the type of functionality Scirate provides, but haven’t mapped the idea out fully.
  • I’d like to learn more about Google App engine. Seems like what I do next would be a good opportunity to achieve this.
  • One thing that was clearly missing was the ability to use Scirate for some sort of social networking. I’m a bit of a skeptic of “scientific social networking” sites, simply because I don’t see how scientists are all that special in their needs for social networking. Or to say it another way I don’t quite see how a more general social networking tool can’t be “extended” to be useful for scientists, but also be very useful across a wide swath of society. This would imply that I should investigate integration into other social networking sites. But does anyone really want Scirate on Facebook? (Farmville proves to me, however, that I have no idea what people want with Facebook.) And something like LinkedIn doesn’t seem to me to be as widely used as a social networking site (it’s more of a contacts / job site) nor does it allow for extend-able apps as far as I know. Actually this makes me realize that there is a huge hole in the professional social networking genre, though I’m sure that there are people out there attacking this problem. Anyone have any leads?
  • There are rumors that the arXiv will soon be accessible in “the cloud.” What sorts of functionality would this allow that it currently missing?

Anyway it seems that I’m due to be working on something new…and yes I know I need to update my iPhone apps as well 🙂

Can You Have Open Science in the Dark?

The arXiv is a game changer for how large portions of physics (and increasingly other fields) are done. Paul Ginsparg won a MacArthur award for his vision and stewardship of the arXiv (something other institutions might want to note when they decide that someone trying to change how science is done isn’t really doing work that will impact them.) So…Given: The arXiv is great. But there is something that’s always bothered me a bit about the arXiv: transparency.
(Note: those of you who wish to complain about the fact that you can’t get endorsed on the arXiv, this article is not for you. Here is a place where that discussion will probably flourish)
Continue reading “Can You Have Open Science in the Dark?”

Happy New Year!

Like the title says: Happy New Year!
Looking back at the list of top scited papers on scirate.com, shows some good fun indeed:
23 SciTes – 0811.3171
Title: Quantum algorithm for solving linear systems of equations
Authors: Aram W. Harrow, Avinatan Hassidim, Seth Lloyd
23 SciTes – 0809.3972
Title: A Counterexample to Additivity of Minimum Output Entropy
Authors: M. B. Hastings
19 SciTes – 0807.4935
Title: Quantum Communication With Zero-Capacity Channels
Authors: Graeme Smith, Jon Yard
18 SciTes – 0804.4050
Title: Matchgates and classical simulation of quantum circuits
Authors: Richard Jozsa, Akimasa Miyake
17 SciTes – 0806.1972
Title: Universal computation by quantum walk
Authors: Andrew M. Childs
17 SciTes – 0805.0007
Title: Superpolynomial speedups based on almost any quantum circuit
Authors: Sean Hallgren, Aram W. Harrow
16 SciTes – 0808.2474
Title: Making Almost Commuting Matrices Commute
Authors: M. B. Hastings
16 SciTes – 0804.3401
Title: Quantum Computational Complexity
Authors: John Watrous
16 SciTes – 0804.1109
Title: Classical and Quantum Algorithms for Exponential Congruences
Authors: Wim van Dam, Igor E. Shparlinski

SciRate.com Comments

Okay, so yeah, yeah, I’m going to blabber on about SciRate.com again. So if your one of those grumps who think that Digg is what you do in the dirt and MySpace refers to your own personsal space, you can stop reading now.
For those of you who haven’t checked out SciRate.com recently, you might not know that there is now a comment feature where you can comment on each paper posted. While there have only been a few comments so far, I think most readers of this blog (all three of you!) would be interested in each of these comments. So here is a digest of some recent comments:

User tobiasosborne writes a comment about 0705.0556, “Random Unitaries Give Quantum Expanders” by M. B. Hastings giving us a good expanded synopsis of the signfigance of this paper.
User Steven reads 0706.1966 so that we don’t have to.
User matt.hastings points us to 0706.3612, “Chiral entanglement in triangular lattice models” by D. I. Tsomokos, J. J. Garcia-Ripoll, and J. K. Pachos, which describes a model which just might be a chiral spin liquid.
User dabacon (now who could that be?) comments on the title of 0707.0021, “Fault Tolerant Adiabatic Quantum Computation” by Daniel A. Lidar, which he finds reason to object to. Update: And a conversation ensues.

Pretty cool, eh? Well I think it is cool, but then again, I think science benefits from open discussion (and I wrote the damn website myself, heh.)