The Race to Build Quantum Computers

  • Speaker
  • Steven M. Girvin, Ph.D.Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics, Yale University
    Scientific Advisory Board, Flatiron Institute
Date & Time


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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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The first quantum revolution brought us the great technological advances of the 20th century—the transistor, the laser, the atomic clock and GPS. A ‘second quantum revolution’ is now underway based on our relatively new understanding of how information can be stored, manipulated and communicated using strange quantum hardware that is neither fully digital nor fully analog.

In this talk, Steven Girvin will give a gentle introduction to the basic concepts that underlie this quantum information revolution. Even more remarkable than the prospect of quantum computation, he says, is the concept of quantum error correction. Rapid theoretical and experimental progress has brought us to the threshold of the era of practical quantum error correction, and it may soon become possible to carry out nearly perfect computations using imperfect hardware.

About the Speaker

After graduating in a high school class of 5 students in the small village of Brant Lake, NY and completing his undergraduate degree in physics from Bates College, Girvin earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1977 and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University and the Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden. He went on to work as a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (known at the time as the Bureau of Standards) from 1979 to 1987 before joining the faculty of Indiana University in 1987. He joined the Yale faculty in 2001, where he is Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Professor of Applied Physics. From 2007 to 2017, he served as Yale’s Deputy Provost for Research. Throughout his career, Girvin’s research has focused on theoretical studies of quantum many-particle systems, quantum optics and quantum computation. Along with his experimenter colleagues Michel Devoret and Robert Schoelkopf, he co-developed ‘circuit QED,’ the leading architecture for the construction of quantum computers based on superconducting microwave circuits.

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