CAREER: Designing Quantum Computers and Understanding Glassy Systems Using Numerical Simulations and Statistical Mechanics Grant uri icon

abstract

  • TECHNICAL SUMMARY This CAREER award supports theoretical and computational research and education that represents a synergy among quantum computing, glassy systems, computational physics and education. The research and education foci are: Quantum Computing: A promising alternative to current computing paradigms is given by quantum computers that allow for massive parallelism. Nonetheless, many practical challenges remain, such as overcoming the effects of decoherence and showing that quantum algorithms are more efficient than current technologies in solving a broad range of problems. Using methods from the study of disordered systems, the PI will address these problems by understanding the stability of new quantum storage and processing schemes based on topological error codes to different error sources, testing the feasibility of device implementations, and studying the efficiency of quantum optimization algorithms. Given the potential impact on information technology, it is imperative to better understand these quantum computing schemes on theoretical, device-centered, and software levels. Glassy systems: Many problems across disciplines can be mapped onto glassy systems, for example decision problems in social sciences or the stability of proposals for quantum computing. The PI aims to capitalize on novel algorithms to answer key questions in this area. These include the fundamentals of the behavior of spin glasses in a field, direct simulation of materials, and interdisciplinary applications ranging from decision problems on complex (social) networks to quantum computing. Computation: A crucial aspect for the successful outcome of the aforementioned scientific goals is the development and improvement of efficient numerical algorithms. The numerical methods developed by the PI can be applied to a wide variety of problems. By making these algorithms and data sets freely available in an archival fashion the proposed research will have a broad impact across disciplines. Education: Computational methods are fundamental for both experiment and theory. However, current physics curricula do not address this need. By developing an innovative computational physics course that combines class work with hands-on research, the PI will address this issue. The course is designed with an inter-institutional component in mind: all modules will be freely available online. Furthermore, students will be trained in modern programming techniques and the use of high-performance computers, skills that are extremely valuable in academic and industrial settings. The proposal also includes an outreach component aimed at Hispanic minorities, as well as engaging the interest of middle and high-school students. NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY The advent of fast and cost-effective computers as well as efficient algorithms has made computational physics into a powerful third way, besides experiment and theory, to do research. This CAREER award supports the study of quantum computing proposals and glassy materials by using tools and methods from computational physics and developing new computational tools and methods. Moore''s law has accurately described the speedup of current computer technologies for half a century. However, quantum mechanics suggests exciting possibilities lie beyond Moore''s law. A promising alternative is the manipulation of quantum mechanical states for computation. This technique may far surpass the performance of current technologies due to the intrinsic parallelism of quantum mechanical states. A goal of this project is to numerically develop proposed ways to achieve quantum computing by studying their tolerance to different error sources. Many problems across disciplines can be mapped onto spin glasses; a spin glass is a type of magnet in which interactions among the smallest magnetic units at the atomic or molecular level differ significantly and are vary randomly from unit to unit. Unlike an ordinary magnet in which aligning the directions of all the uniformly interacting microscopic magnetic units satisfies the interactions among the magnetic units, the random nature of the interactions makes them difficult to satisfy leading to a challenging computational problem. Understanding the properties of spin glasses, as well as limitations of theoretical pictures describing them can lead to insights across disciplinary boundaries. This project focuses on answering fundamental questions in the field of spin glasses, including the study of spin-glass materials and interdisciplinary applications of the theory. The PI will develop an innovative computational physics course that combines class work with hands-on research. The course is designed with an inter-institutional component in mind; all modules will be freely available online. Furthermore, students will be trained in modern programming techniques and the use of high-performance computers, skills that are extremely valuable in academic and industrial settings. The proposal also includes an outreach component aimed at Hispanic minorities, as well as engaging the interest of middle and high-school students.

date/time interval

  • 2012 - 2018