Higher Math on the Sands of Santa Barbara


UCSB, looking NW

Spent Sunday afternoon with world-renowned mathematician Michael Freedman (short bio here) walking the beach and bluffs above, just northwest of UC Santa Barbara, talking about a number of absurd and not-so-absurd possibilities in the future applications of quantum computing.  Here’s an example of the kind of stuff I was trying, very hard and maybe somewhat successfully, to grasp while walking in the California sun and trying to ignore the nude sunbathers and hang-gliders.  If that’s unhelpful (as most of it is for me), here’s a straightforward description of some of his main work and its possible applications. 

To be honest, for my purposes I don’t need to be able to do the math, just understand it enough to make a judgment with others on whether its application is potentially useful for government purposes (mostly exotic ones, admittedly). Haven’t had this much mental fun in a long time…

Then had a good meeting this morning with Henry Yang, the Chancellor of UCSB.  Not only has he been a driving force for the university’s partnership with Microsoft to establish Station Q as a world-class research institution, but Yang’s also a subject-matter expert in related and interesting fields of Robotics and Dynamic Systems.  Wonderful guy.

Santa Barbara’s always been a premier locus for theoretical physics and related theoretical fields; the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics is right next door to Station Q, just off the beach. Here’s the payoff: Station Q’s model is a concentric set of collaborative relationships, with Michael Freedman at UCSB leading a solid team of about 30 people (faculty, researchers, post-docs and grad students) but also working directly with other quantum researchers at Bell Labs, Harvard, CalTech, Columbia and a number of other institutions.  So having the Chancellor take such an interest in Q and its relationships is of great benefit, to the research and (he says) to the university.

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