Watch: Alexei Kitaev and the Value of Toy Models

Simplifications can provide deep insights to complex systems like black holes, explains Alexei Kitaev of the California Institute of Technology

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A principal investigator in the It from Qubit collaboration, Alexei Kitaev is the Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics at California Institute of Technology. He received the MacArthur award (2008), the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2012), the Dirac Medal (2015) and the Oliver Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (2017).

Kitaev has shown how quantum information can be encoded and protected from errors using topological properties of many-body systems. He has also studied topological phases of matter in their own right, including exactly solvable models and mathematical classification. More recently, Kitaev has been interested in the black hole information paradox; he found that certain relevant properties of a quantum black hole are reproduced by a simple many-body Hamiltonian.