5 Years!

Five years ago I (it’s me Dave Bacon former supposed pseudo-professor and one time quantum pontiff) jumped off the academic ship, swam to shore, and put on a new set of clothes as a software developer for Google. Can it really have been five years? Well I should probably update this blog so my mom knows what I’ve been up to.

  • I helped build and launch Google Domains. From quantum physics professor to builder of domain name registrar. I bet you wouldn’t have predicted that one! Along the way I was lucky to be surrounded by a team of software engineers who were gracious enough to tell me when I was doing silly things, and show me the craft that is a modern software development. I may now, in fact, be a real software developer. Though this just means that I know how much I still need to master.
  • We built a cabin! Well, we worked with wonderful architects and buiders to construct “New Caelifera” over in the Methow Valley (about 4 hours east of Seattle).
    New CaeliferaI have to say that this was one of the funnest things I’ve done in my life. Who knew a dumpy software engineer could also be an aesthete. Even cooler, the end result is an awesome weekend place that you have to drive through a National Park to get to. I’ve been super spoiled.
  • Lost: my sister, Catherine Bacon, and my dog, the Test Dog. Life is precious and we should cherish it!
  • Gained: a new puppy, Imma Dog Bacon. Imma dog? You’re a dog! Imma Dog!
    Imma Dog
  • Hobbies. arXiv:1605.03266. The difference between being a hobby scientist and a professional scientist is that when you’re a professional it’s “Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Success!” and when you’re a hobbiest it’s “Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Fffffffaaaaaiiiiiillllll. Success?” Yes I’m that guy that reads your quantum computing papers at night after work for fun.

So maybe I’ll write another blog post in five years? Or maybe I should resurrect the Pontiff. I saw the Optimizer the other day, and he suggested that since it’s hard for me to blog about quantum computing stuff what with Google involved as it is, I could blog about stuff from the past. But I’m more of a promethean than a pastoralist. It didn’t occur to me until later that there is an alternative solution, one that is particularly appealing to a quantum dude like myself: maybe I should start blogging about an alternative universe? I’ve always liked Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

Goodbye Professor Tombrello

This morning I awoke to the horrible news that Caltech Physics Professor Tom Tombrello had passed away. Professor Tombrello was my undergraduate advisor, my research advisor, a mentor, and, most importantly a friend. His impact on me, from my career to the way I try to live my life, was profound.
Because life is surreal, just a few days ago I wrote this post that describes the event that led Professor Tombrello and I down entwined paths, my enrollment in his class Physics 11. Physics 11 was a class about how to create value in the world, disguised as a class about how to do “physics” research as an undergraduate. Indeed, in my own life, Professor Tombrello’s roll was to make me think really really hard about what it meant to create. Sometimes this creation was in research, trying to figure out a new approach or even a new problem. Sometimes this creation was in a new career, moving to Google to be given the opportunity to build high impact creations. I might even say that this creation extends into the far reaches of Washington state, where we helped bring about the creation of a house most unusual.
There are many stories I remember about Professor Tombrello. From the slightly amusing like the time after the Northridge earthquake when an aftershock shook our class while he was practicing his own special brand of teach, and we all just sort of sat still until we heard this assistant, Michelle, shout out “That’s it! I’m outta here!” and go storming out. To the time I talked with him following the loss of one of his family members, and could see the profound sadness even in a man who push optimistically forward at full speed.
Some portraits:

After one visit to Professor Tombrello, I actually recorded my thoughts on our conversation:

This blog post is for me, not for you. Brought to you by a trip down memory lane visiting my adviser at Caltech.
Do something new. Do something exciting. Excel. Whether the path follows your momentum is not relevant.
Don’t dwell. Don’t get stuck. Don’t put blinders on.
Consider how the problem will be solved, not how you are going to solve it.
Remember Feynman: solve problems.
Nothing is not interesting, but some things are boring.
Dyson’s driving lesson: forced intense conversation to learn what the other has to say.
Avoid confirmatory sources of news, except as a reminder of the base. Keep your ear close to the brains: their hushed obsessions are the next big news.
Learn something new everyday but also remember to forget the things not worth knowing.
Technically they can do it or they can’t, but you can sure help them do it better when they can.
Create. Create. Create.
Write a book, listen to Sandra Tsing Loh, investigate Willow Garage, and watch Jeff Bezos to understand how to be a merchant.
Create. Create. Create.

So tonight, I’ll have a glass of red wine to remember my professor, think of his family, and the students to whom he meant so much. And tomorrow I’ll pick myself up, and try to figure out just what I can create next.

Portrait of an Academic at a Midlife Crisis

Citations are the currency of academia. But the currency of your heart is another thing altogether. With apologies to my co-authors, here is a plot of my paper citations versus my own subjective rating of the paper. Hover over the circles to see the paper title, citations per year, and score. Click to see the actual paper. (I’ve only included papers that appear on the arxiv.)

If I were an economist I suppose at this point I would fit a sloping line through the data and claim victory. But being a lowly software developer, its more interesting to me to give a more anecdotal treatment of the data.

  • The paper that I love the most has, as of today, exactly zero citations! Why do I love that paper? Not because it’s practical (far from it.) Not because it proves things to an absolute T (just ask the beloved referees of that paper.) But I love it because it says there is the possibility that there exists a material that quantum computes in a most peculiar manner. In particular the paper argues that it is possible to have devices where: quantum information starts on one side of device, you turn on a field over the device, and “bam!” the quantum information is now on the other side of the material with a quantum circuit applied to it. How f’in cool is that! I think its just wonderful, and had I stuck around the hallowed halls, I probably would still be yelling about how cool it is, much to the dismay of my friends and colleagues (especially those for which the use of the word adiabatic causes their brain to go spazo!)
  • Three papers I was lucky enough to be involved in as a graduate student, wherein we showed how exchange interactions alone could quantum compute, have generated lots of citations. But the citations correlate poorly with my score. Why? Because it’s my score! Haha! In particular the paper I love the most out of this series is not the best written, most deep, practical, or highly cited. It’s the paper where we first showed that exchange alone was universal for quantum computing. The construction in the paper has large warts on it, but it was the paper where I think I first participated in a process where I felt like we knew something about the possibilities of building a quantum computer that others had not quite exactly thought of. And that feeling is wonderful and is why that paper has such a high subjective score.
  • It’s hard not to look this decades worth of theory papers and be dismayed about how far they are from real implementation. I think that is why I like Coherence-preserving quantum bit and Adiabatic Quantum Teleportation. Both of these are super simple and always felt like if I could just get an experimentalist drunk enough excited enough they might try implement that damn thing. The first shows a way to make a qubit that should be more robust to errors because its ground state is in an error detecting state. The second shows a way to get quantum information to move between three qubits using a simple adiabatic procedure related to quantum teleportation. I still hope someday to see these executed on a functioning quantum computer, and I wonder how I’d feel about them should that happen.

Why I Left Academia

TLDR: scroll here for the pretty interactive picture.
Over two years ago I abandoned my post at the University of Washington as a assistant research professor studying quantum computing and started a new career as a software developer for Google. Back when I was a denizen of the ivory tower I used to daydream that when I left academia I would write a long “Jerry Maguire”-esque piece about the sordid state of the academic world, of my lot in that world, and how unfair and f**ked up it all is. But maybe with less Tom Cruise. You know the text, the standard rebellious view of all young rebels stuck in the machine (without any mirror.) The song “Mad World” has a lyric that I always thought summed up what I thought it would feel like to leave and write such a blog post: “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.”
But I never wrote that post. Partially this was because every time I thought about it, the content of that post seemed so run-of-the-mill boring that I feared my friends who read it would never ever come visit me again after they read it. The story of why I left really is not that exciting. Partially because writing a post about why “you left” is about as “you”-centric as you can get, and yes I realize I have a problem with ego-centric ramblings. Partially because I have been busy learning a new career and writing a lot (omg a lot) of code. Partially also because the notion of “why” is one I—as a card carrying ex-Physicist—cherish and I knew that I could not possibly do justice to giving a decent “why” explanation.
Indeed: what would a “why” explanation for a life decision such as the one I faced look like? For many years when I would think about this I would simply think “well it’s complicated and how can I ever?” There are, of course, the many different components that you think about when considering such decisions. But then what do you do with them? Does it make sense to think about them as probabilities? “I chose to go to Caltech, 50 percent because I liked physics, and 50 percent because it produced a lot Nobel prize winners.” That does not seem very satisfying.
Maybe the way to do it is to phrase the decisions in terms of probabilities that I was assigning before making the decision. “The probability that I’ll be able to contribute something to physics will be 20 percent if I go to Caltech versus 10 percent if I go to MIT.” But despite what some economists would like to believe there ain’t no way I ever made most decisions via explicit calculation of my subjective odds. Thinking about decisions in terms of what an actor feels each decision would do to increase his/her chances of success feels better than just blindly associating probabilities to components in a decision, but it also seems like a lie, attributing math where something else is at play.
So what would a good description of the model be? After pondering this for a while I realized I was an idiot (for about the eighth time that day. It was a good day.) The best way to describe how my brain was working is, of course, nothing short than my brain itself. So here, for your amusement, is my brain (sorry, only tested using Chrome). Yes, it is interactive.

Lucky 13 paper dance!

Having recently rediscovered arxiv.org/submit, I thought I’d mention a few papers to come out of team UW.
Two particularly exciting single-author papers are from students here.
Kamil Michnicki has developed a 3-d stabilizer code on n qubits with an energy barrier that scales as n^{2/9}. By contrast, such a result is impossible in 2-d, and the best energy barrier previously obtained in 3-d was O(log n) from Haah’s breakthrough cubic code. Sadly, this code appears not to have the thermal stability properties of the 4-d toric code, but it nevertheless is an exciting step towards a self-correcting quantum memory.

1208.3496: 3-d quantum stabilizer codes with a power law energy barrier
Kamil Michnicki

David Rosenbaum has written a mostly classical algorithms paper about the old problem of group isomorphism: given two groups G,H specified by their multiplication tables, determine whether they are isomorphic. The problem reduces to graph isomorphism, but may be strictly easier. Since any group with |G|=n has a generating set of size leq log_2(n), it follows that the problem can be solved in time n^{log(n)+O(1)}. While faster algorithm have been given in many special cases, the trivial upper bound of n^{log(n)} has resisted attack for decades. See Gödel’s Lost Letter for some discussion. The particular classes of groups considered to be hardest have been the nilpotent (or more generally solvable) groups, since paradoxically the rigidity of highly non-abelian groups (e.g. simple groups) makes them easier to address. David found a polynomial speedup for solvable groups, thus making the first progress on this problem since the initial n^{log(n)} algorithms.

1205.0642: Breaking the n^{log n} Barrier for Solvable-Group Isomorphism
David Rosenbaum

Lukas Svec (together with collaborators) also has a nice way of improving the Gottesman-Knill simulations that have been so effective in estimating FTQC thresholds. Gottesman-Knill allows mixtures of Clifford unitaries to be simulated classically, which seems as thought it should be only be effective for simulating unital noise. However, throwing away a qubit and replacing it with the |0rangle state can also be encompassed within the Gottesman-Knill approach. This insight allows them to give much better simulations of amplitude-damping noise than any previous approach.

1207.0046: Approximation of real error channels by Clifford channels and Pauli measurements
Mauricio Gutiérrez, Lukas Svec, Alexander Vargo, Kenneth R. Brown

There have also been two papers about the possibilities of two dimensions. David has a paper explaining how a general circuit with arbitrary two-qubit interactions on n qubits can be simulated in a 2-d architecture by using n^2 qubits. If only k gates happen per time step, then nk qubits suffice. The key trick is to use classical control to perform teleportation chains, an idea of whose provenance I’m unclear on, but which is based in part on MBQC and in part on a remarkable paper of Terhal and Divincenzo.

1205.0036: Optimal Quantum Circuits for Nearest-Neighbor Architectures
David Rosenbaum

Examining particular algorithms can enable more dramatic speedups, and by examining Shor’s algorithm, Paul Pham was able to reduce the depth to polylogarithmic, surprisingly finding an improved implementation of the most well-studied of quantum algorithms.

1207.6655: A 2D Nearest-Neighbor Quantum Architecture for Factoring
Paul Pham, Krysta M. Svore

David and I also have a joint paper on an alternate oracle model in which one input to the oracle is supplied by the user and a second input is random noise. While in some cases (e.g. a Grover oracle that misfires) this does not lead to quantum advantages, we find that in other cases, quantum computers can solve problems in a single query that classical computers cannot solve with unlimited queries. Along the way, we address the question of when some number of (quantum or classical) queries yield no useful information at all about the answer to an oracle problem.

1111.1462: Uselessness for an Oracle Model with Internal Randomness
David Rosenbaum, Aram W. Harrow

My co-blogger Steve has also been active. Steve and his co-authors (does that make them my step-co-authors?) have written perhaps the definitive work on how to estimate approximately low-rank density matrices using a small number of measurements.

1205.2300: Quantum Tomography via Compressed Sensing: Error Bounds, Sample Complexity, and Efficient Estimators
Steven T. Flammia, David Gross, Yi-Kai Liu, Jens Eisert

Steve, together with Ghost Pontiff Dave and Dave’s former student Gregory Crosswhite have also posted

1207.2769: Adiabatic Quantum Transistors
Dave Bacon, Steven T. Flammia, Gregory M. Crosswhite

This paper proposes a deeply innovative approach to quantum computing, in which one adiabatically transforms one simple spatially-local Hamiltonian to another. Unlike previous approaches, it seems to have a chance of having some compelling fault-tolerance properties, although analyzing this remains challenging.
Steve and I also have a brief note (arXiv:1204.3404) relevant to my ongoing debate with Gil Kalai (see here, here, here, here, here, here or here) in which we point out counterexamples to one of Gil’s conjectures. This post specifically contains more discussion of the issue.
Finally, I’ve been clearing out a lot of my unpublished backlog this year.
My co-authors and I wrote a short paper explaining the main ideas behind the superactivation of zero-error capacity. The principle is similar to that found in all of the additivity violations based on random quantum channels: we choose a correlated distribution over channels {cal N}_1, {cal N}_2 in a way that forces {cal N}_1otimes {cal N}_2 to have some desired behavior (e.g. when acting on a particular maximally entangled state). At the same time, apart from this constraint, the distribution is as random as possible. Hopefully we can then show that any single-copy use of {cal N}_1 or {cal N}_2 has low capacity, or in our case, zero zero-error capacity. In our case, there are a few twists, since we are talking about zero-error capacity, which is a fragile property more suited to algebraic geometry than the usual approximate techniques in information theory. On the other hand, this means that at many points we can show that properties hold with probability 1. The other nontrivial twist is that we have to show that not only {cal N}_i has zero zero-error capacity (yeah, I know it’s a ridiculous expression) but {cal N}_i^{otimes n} does for all n. This can be done with some more algebraic geometry (which is a fancy way of saying that the simultaneous zeroes of a set of polynomials has measure equal to either 0 or 1) as well as the fact that the property of being an unextendible product bases is stable under tensor product.

1109.0540:Entanglement can completely defeat quantum noise
Jianxin Chen, Toby S. Cubitt, Aram W. Harrow, Graeme Smith

One paper that was a fun bridge-building exercise (with a nice shout out from Umesh Vazirani/BILL GASARCH) was a project with quantum information superstar Fernando Brandão as well as a pack of classical CS theorists. My part of the paper involved connections between QMA(2) and optimizing polynomials over mathbb{R}^n. For example, if a_1,ldots, a_m are the rows of a matrix A, then define |A|_{2rightarrow 4} = max_{|x|_2=1} |Ax|_4 = max_{|x|_2=1} (sum_{i=1}^m |langle a_i, xrangle|^4)^{1/4}. Taking the fourth power we obtain the maximum energy attainable by product states under the Hamiltonian H = sum_{i=1}^m a_i a_i^* otimes a_i a_i^*. Thus, hardness results and algorithms can be ported in both directions. One natural algorithm is called “the Lasserre SDP hierarchy” classically and “optimizing over k-extendable states” quantumly, but in fact these are essentially the same thing (an observation dating back to a 2003 paper of Doherty, Parrilo, and Spedalieri). There is much more to the paper, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

1205.4484: Hypercontractivity, Sum-of-Squares Proofs, and their Applications
Boaz Barak, Fernando G.S.L. Brandão, Aram W. Harrow, Jonathan A. Kelner, David Steurer, Yuan Zhou

Another big collaboration taking me out of my usual areas was this paper on quantum architecture. Suppose that our quantum computer is comprised of many small nodes (say ion traps), connected by long-range links (say optical fibers), as has been recently advocated. This computer would not be stuck with a 2-d topology, but could be connected in any reasonably low-degree configuration. Our paper shows that a hypercube topology (among many other possibilities) is enough to simulate general quantum circuits. This enables parallelized versions of Grover search that finally (in my opinion) address the problem raised by Grover and Rudolph about the memory requirements for the “best” known collision and element-distinctness algorithms. As a result, we find space-time tradeoffs (assuming this hypercube topology) for collision and element distinctness of ST=tilde O(sqrt N) and ST=tilde O(N) respectively.

1207.2307: Efficient Distributed Quantum Computing
Robert Beals, Stephen Brierley, Oliver Gray, Aram W. Harrow, Samuel Kutin, Noah Linden, Dan Shepherd, Mark Stather

The next paper was on more familiar territory. Together with my former PhD student Richard Low (and building on the work of Dahlsten, Oliveira and Plenio), I proved that random quantum circuits are approximate unitary 2-designs in 0802.1919. Later Fernando Brandão and Michal Horodecki improved this to show that random quantum circuits are approximate unitary 3-designs in 1010.3654 (achieving a sweet oracle speedup in the process). Teaming up with them I expected maybe to reach 5-designs, but in the end we were able to get arbitrary k-designs on n qubits with circuits of length {rm poly}(n,k).

1208.0692 Local random quantum circuits are approximate polynomial-designs
Fernando G. S. L. Brandão, Aram W. Harrow, Michal Horodecki

Finally, one more paper came out of my classical CS dabbling. Together with classical (but quantum curious) theorists Alexandra Kolla and Leonard Schulman, we found a cute combinatorial result in our failed bid to refute the unique games conjecture on the hypercube. Our result concerns what are called maximal functions. Hardy and Littlewood introduced these by talking about cricket; here is a contemporary version. Imagine that you are a Red Sox fan whose happiness at any given time depends on what fraction of the last n games the Red Sox have won against the Yankees. Fortunately, you are willing to choose n differently from day to day in order to maximize your happiness. For example, if the Red Sox won the last game, you take n=1 and your happiness is 100%. If they won 3 out of the last 5 games, you could take n=5 and obtain happiness 60%. The maximal operator takes the win-loss series and transforms it into the happiness function. (A similar principle is at work when the loser of rock-paper-scissors proposes best 3-out-of-5, and then best 4-out-of-7, etc.) In our paper, we bound how much the maximal operator can increase the 2-norm of a function when it acts on functions on the hypercube, and the maximization is taken not over intervals, but over Hamming spheres in the hypercube. Along the way, we prove some bounds on Krawtchouk polynomials that seem so simple and useful I feel we must have overlooked some existing paper that already proves them.

1209.4148: Dimension-free L2 maximal inequality for spherical means in the hypercube
Aram W. Harrow, Alexandra Kolla, Leonard J. Schulman

Quantum Interregnum!

The Vicar of Randomization hereby informs the readers of this blog that the Quantum Pontiff Dave Bacon XLII has decohered.  He further informs the readers of this blog that the entire Quantum Pontiff blog is in Justitium and hopes that the readers will refrain from acting like Canucks fans after losing the Stanley Cup.
The College of Cardinals will begin conclave in the coming days, please stay tuned to this chimney.

Goodnight CSE

good night room

goodnight nom de plume

goodnight notebooks

goodnight tests

goodnight grants

goodnight Mike and goodnight Ike

goodnight publish

and goodnight perish

goodnight whiteboard

goodnight star, goodnight air
goodnight noises everywhere.

Oh the Places I've Been!

In 1996 I participated in Caltech‘s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program under the direction of two postdocs, Nicolas Cerf and Chris Adami (their big boss now works the halls of D.C.) The research project I worked on was to try to see whether quantum computers could efficiently solve NP-complete problems. Or as I like to say, my SURF was spent bashing my head up against the wall (and getting damn good at tensor products and spotting non-linear transforms, as you can see from my SURF writeup. John Preskill told me after my talk, in the first words he ever uttered in my direction: “that was a hard problem you worked on.”)
My SURF project was not my first introduction to quantum computing, but it was the first time I’d gotten a chance to bash my head up against the field, and something must have stuck. Because when I went to grad school in Berkeley in 1997, after a year of taking astrophysics courses (if the cosmic microwave background was distributed this way or that way on the sky, this or that cosmological model could be ruled out, how cool is that!) I stumbled back into quantum computing through the group of Chemistry Professor K. Birgitta Whaley and her postdoc Daniel Lidar. My first paper in quantum computing was published in 1999, and I’ve been a proud participant in the growing field of quantum information science ever sense.
Now that I’ve decided that it is time for a change and I’m moving out of the ivory tower and into the real world (academics, you see, manufacture their own reality, which is why they call everything outside of academia “the real world”), I thought it would be fun to indulge in a little bit of egotistical self-reflection, cataloging the joys that a decade plus spent in quantum computing has given me.  The joys of all of the papers I’ve written and all of the cool quantum computing stuff I’ve see?  No, that would be too easy.  Instead I thought it would be fund to think about the kind of crazy things that happen to you as life sweeps you along.  Or, as I like to say it, “Oh the places I’ve been!”
[Warning: self-flattering ego-inflating stories ahead!]
Things I’ve gotten to do that were pretty damn awesome:

  • I lectured a rich guy who’d just sold his company for many millions of dollars about quantum computing while standing on the walkway surrounding the 200-inch Hale telescope.  This will definitely be the only time I’ve been driven to give a scientific talk in a limo!
  • Parked my Mazda Miata with QUBITS license plate beside Murray Gell-Mann’s Range Rover sporting the license plate QUARKS while at the Santa Fe Institue.  One day I missed a major missed opportunity because of this.  Ben Schumacher was visiting the Santa Fe Institute… so I had the chance to get a picture of two people who have invented words that start with “Q”, that are in the dictionary, in front of two cars with license plates with those words!  I shall never forgive myself for this missed opportunity.

  • Played Isaac Newton to Scott Aaronson’s Gottfried Leibniz.  Personally I think I got to play the more awesome scientist and damn if that Leibniz didn’t steal calculus from me.

  • Gave a lecture at a summer school in Brisbane, Australia where I discussed a stabilizer code which contained the operators XXXX and ZZZZ. XXXX is the name of a beer in Australia, so I knew this would be awesome for jokes about beer and sleep. Unfortunately I didn’t notice that I had named the stabilizer group that these two operators generated Sex. The subsequent accident jokes had a few people rolling in the aisles.

  • Participated in a joint US/Australia NSF workshop in which I got to see Andrew White grill Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Resources(?) about education policy. During that trip I also got my finger stuck in an eye bolt when we were out on a cruise of Sydney Harbor, and had to get unstuck with the help of a stick of butter and an NSF program manager.  Oh, and I also got kicked into a nightclub on that trip.
  • Quantum Beer Night in Berkeley (at the Albatross) became Quantum Margarita Night at Caltech, where it made the list of top geek hangouts in Popular Science!
  • I got to hear Cormac McCarthy tell stories during SFI tea time, and found out that he deeply understands Bell inequalities.  Also at SFI I tied myself up to the corners of the lecture hall during a talk to demonstrate how SU(2) is related to the real world.
  • Got sick of looking at the arXiv every morning and so crowdsourced the daily task of filtering these posts by creating the website scirate.com.  Thank you people for doing so much filtering for me, you really have saved me a lot of time.
  • Gave a talk at Bungie about quantum video games.
  • Gave a talk in which I tried to sound like Martin Luther King Jr (BOMB)
  • Gave a talk that involved the use of subwoofers and speakers (sadly the file for this got corrupted and I no longer have the talk.)
  • Kept students amused during their exams by drawing cartoons:

  • Bought an iPhone and realized that it was a pain to surf for papers on the arXiv, so wrote an iPhone app for browsing the arXiv, arXiview.
  • Got a comment on my blog from a Nobel prize winner in physics.
  • Was once the top hit for the word “pontiff” on google. Take that Beattles!
  • Had a word stolen from me by Stephen Colbert: “Jesi.” Okay, well maybe not, but the ensuing discussion of the proper plural of Jesus is amusing.

Ah the things I’ve got to do.  So far.  Kind of makes me look forward to what kind of craziness is going to happen next 🙂

    dabacon.job = "Software Engineer";

    Some news for the remaining five readers of this blog (hi mom!) After over a decade of time practicing the fine art of quantum computing theorizing, I will be leaving my position in the ivory (okay, you caught me, really it’s brick!) tower of the University of Washington, to take a position as a software engineer at Google starting in the middle of June. That’s right…the Quantum Pontiff has decohered! **groan** Worst quantum to classical joke ever!
    Of course this is a major change, and not one that I have made lightly. There are many things I will miss about quantum computing, and among them are all of the people in the extended quantum computing community who I consider not just colleagues, but also my good friends. I’ve certainly had a blast, and the only things I regret in this first career are things like, oh, not finding an efficient quantum algorithm for graph isomorphism. But hey, who doesn’t wake up every morning regretting not making progress on graph isomorphism? Who!?!? More seriously, for anyone who is considering joining quantum computing, please know that quantum computing is an extremely positive field with funny, amazingly brilliant, and just plain fun people everywhere you look. It is only a matter of time before a large quantum computer is built, and who knows, maybe I’ll see all of you quantum computing people again in a decade when you need to hire a classical to quantum software engineer!
    Of course, I’m also completely and totally stoked for the new opportunity that working at Google will provide (and no, I won’t be doing quantum computing work in my new job.) There will definitely be much learning and hard work ahead for me, but it is exactly those things that I’m looking forward to. Google has had a tremendous impact on the world, and I am very much looking forward to being involved in Google’s great forward march of technology.
    So, onwards and upwards my friends! And thanks for all of the fish!