Tag Archives: Mittag-Leffler Institute

The Mystery Piano-Player at the Mittag-Leffler Institute

piano-mystery

In a previous post I told you about my Mittag-Leffler 2005 experience, and challenged you, readers, to discover the identity of a mysterious piano player. Coming from Yale, I was jet-lagged, an experience which already worked for me once in 1991 when I visited the
Mittah-Leffler institute and  was exploring subexponential variants of the simplex algorithm. In 2005, I came every day to my office at a very early hour in the morning and started working on quantum fault-tolerance.  And very early in the morning somebody was already at the piano. Who was playing the piano for me in the Mittag-Leffler Institute?

Hearing the piano and realizing who my private pianist was on these early mornings reminded me of a very cheerful song that we used to sing in my wife’s family gatherings. The song was introduced by uncle Shimon, husband of my-mother-in-law’s sister Rachel, and he took the lead role.

Shimon start singing: “And what are we going to eat at this feast?”
and we all joined: “A whale and a wild ox, we are going to eat, a whale and a wild ox!”

Wild ox and whale are not kosher (Update: so I, naively, thought), but comprise of the menu of the righteous people in heaven. This was indeed a very cheerful death-defiant song that went on like this:

“And what are we going to drink at this feast?” and we all replied: “Reserve wine, we will drink, reserve wine we will drink, and a whale and wild ox we will eat at this feast!”

And it continued:

“And who is going to taech us the words of the Torah?
Moses our rabbi! Yes, Moses our rabbi is going to teach us the words of the Torah, reserve wine we will drink, and a whale and wild ox we will eat at this feast.

And who is going to tell us words of wisdom at this feast? King Solomon! Yes King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom; Moses our rabbi is going to teach us the words of the Torah, reserve wine we will drink, and a whale and wild ox we will eat at this feast.

And who is going to dance for us, at this feast?
Deborah the prophet! Yes, Deborah the prophet is going to dance for us! King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom; Moses our rabbi is going to teach us the words of the Torah, reserve wine we will drink, and a whale and wild ox we will eat at this feast!

And who is going to play music for us at this feast? King David is going to play music for us at this feast!  Deborah the prophet is going to dance for us! King Solomon will tell us words of wisdom; Moses our rabbi is going to teach us the words of the Torah, reserve wine we will drink, and a whale and wild ox we will eat at this feast!”

Here it is in Hebrew:

 ומה נאכל בארוחה זו? שור הבר לוויתן! שור הבר לוויתן נאכל בארוחה זו

ומה נשתה הארוחה זו? יין המשומר! יין המשומר נשתה , שור הבר לוויתן נאכל, בארוחה זו

 ומי יאמר לנו דברי תורה בארוחה זו? משה רבנו! משה רבנו יאמר לנו דברי תורה, יין המשומר נשתה , שור הבר לוויתן נאכל, בארוחה זו

ומי יגיד לנו דברי חכמה בארוחה זו? שלמה המלך! שלמה המלך יגיד לנו דברי חכמה, משה רבנו יאמר לנו דברי תורה, יין המשומר נשתה , שור הבר לוויתן נאכל, בארוחה זו

ומי ינגן לנו בארוחה זו? דוד המלך! דוד המלך ינגן לנו, דבורה הנביאה תרקד לנו, שלמה המלך יגיד לנו דברי חכמה, משה רבנו יאמר לנו דברי תורה, יין המשומר נשתה , שור הבר לוויתן נאכל, בארוחה זו

ומי ישמח איתנו בארוחה זו? כל המסובין! כל המסובין ישמחו איתנו, דוד המלך ינגן לנו,  דבורה הנביאה תרקד לנו, שלמה המלך יגיד לנו דברי חכמה, משה רבנו יאמר לנו דברי תורה, יין המשומר נשתה , שור הבר לוויתן נאכל, בארוחה זו

The person who was playing the piano at six o’clock in the morning at the Mittag-Leffler institute was not King David, but rather
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My Quantum Debate with Aram III

This is the third and last post giving a timeline and some non technical highlights from my debate with Aram Harrow.  

Where were we

After Aram Harrow and I got in touch in June 2011, and decided to have a blog debate towards the end of 2011, the first post in our debate describing my point of view was launched on January, 2012 and was followed by three posts by Aram. The discussion was intensive and interesting.  Here is a link to my 2011 paper that initiated the debate and to a recent post-debate presentation at MIT.

 Happy_Passover  Happy passover, readers!

Back to the debate: Conjecture C is shot down!

steveHARROW

In addition to his three posts, Aram and Steve Flammia wrote a paper refuting one of my Conjectures (Conjecture C).  We decided to devote a post to this conjecture.

Quantum refutations and reproofs

Post 5, May 12, 2012. One of Gil Kalai’s conjectures refuted but refurbished

Niels Henrik Abel was the patron saint this time

The first version of the post started with this heartbreaking eulogy for Conjecture C. At the end most of it was cut away. But the part about Aram’s grandchildren was left in the post.

Eulogy for Conjecture C

(Gil; old version:) When Aram wrote to me, inn June 2011, and expressed willingness to publicly discuss my paper, my first reaction was to decline and propose having just private discussions. Even without knowing Aram’s superb track record in debates, I knew that I put my beloved conjectures on the line. Some of them, perhaps even all of them, will not last. Later, last December, I changed my mind and Aram and I started planning our debate. My conjectures and I were fully aware of the risks. And it was Conjecture C that did not make it.

A few words about Conjecture C

Conjecture C, while rooted in quantum computers skepticism, was a uniter and not a divider! It expressed our united aim to find a dividing line between the pre- and post- universal quantum computer eras.

Aram’s grandchildren and the world before quantum computers


When Aram’s grandchildren will ask him: “
Grandpa, how was the world before quantum computers?” he could have replied: “I hardly remember, but thanks to Gil we have some conjectures recording the old days, and then he will state to the grandchildren Conjectures 1-4 and the clear dividing line in terms of Conjecture C, and the grandchildren will burst in laughter about the old days of difficult entanglements.” Continue reading

Mittag-Leffler Institute and Yale, Winter 2005; Test your intuition: Who Played the Piano?

This is a little “flashback” intermission in my posts about my debate with Aram Harrow. This time I try to refer to Cris Moore’s question regarding  the motivation for my study. For the readers it gives an opportunity to win a $50 prize! 

Let me also bring to your attention an interesting discussion (starting here) between Peter Shor and me regarding smoothed Lindblad evolutions.

(Cris Moore, the debate’s very first comment!) I am also a little confused by Gil’s motivation for his conjectures.  (My response:)  To the best of my memory, my main motivation for skeptically studying quantum fault-tolerance was that I thought that this is a direction worth pursuing and that I had a shot at it.

micheldevoretposter (1)

While listening with Ravi Kannan to this 2002 lecture by Michel Devoret at Yale, I wondered if there are enough scientists working on the “mirage” side.

Flashback: Mittag-Leffler 2005

I started systematically thinking about quantum fault-tolerance in February 2005. There were several things that triggered my interest to the question in the previous fall and I decided to spend some time learning and thinking about it in our winter break.  One of those triggers was something Dorit Aharonov told me a few months earlier: she said that once, when she was telling her students about quantum computers, she suddenly had a feeling that maybe it was all just nonsense. Another trigger came from a former student who told me about a Polish scientist (whose name he could not remember) who wrote an article about impossibility of quantum error-correction. I thought that the lack of a quantum analog of the repetition code, and the unique properties of the majority function  in terms of sensitivity to noise that I studied with Itai Benjamini and Oded Schramm earlier could be a good starting point for looking skeptically at quantum computers.  

In our 2005 winter break, I spent two weeks at Yale and then additional two weeks at the Mittag-Leffler institute near Stockholm.  At Yale, I only had little time to think about quantum computers. I had to finish a survey article with Muli Safra about threshold phenomena (To a volume that Cris Moore and Allon Perkus were among the editors).  One of the last days in Yale we went to dinner with two guests, Chris Skinner who gave the colloquium talk, and Andrei Okounkov who visited me and gave a talk about partition enumeration and mirror symmetry. At the dinner Andrew Casson asked, out of the blue, if we think that quantum computers can be built and it almost seemed as if that Andrew was reading my mind on what I plan to work on the weeks to come. My answer there was the same as my answer now, that I tend to find it implausible.

Mittag-Leffler Institute February 2005 with Xavier Viennot and Alain Lascoux

In Sweden I spent most of my time on quantum fault-tolerance. I was jet-lagged and being jet-lagged in the Mittag-Leffler institute already worked for me once, when finding my subexponential randomized variant of the simplex algorithm was a substitute for sleeping some night in fall 1991 . In 2005 it was not as bad, I just came to my office very early in the morning and started working. And very early in the morning somebody was already playing the piano.

And who was playing the piano at the institute in the cold Swedish mornings of February 2005? The first reader to guess correctly, and convince me in a comment that she or he knows the answer without revealing it to everybody else will get $50. Continue reading