Quantum Bayesian Networks

February 7, 2011

“A Landmark Proof” for Anyons, According to Wilczek

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 5:48 pm

MIT professor Frank Wilczek is primarily a high energy physicist (he won, together with D.Gross and H.D. Politzer, the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, for discovering a high energy physics phenomenon, viz. the asymptotic freedom of the strong force). However, Wilczek is also interested in anyons.

Many scientists believe that non-abelian anyons would make good qubits because they would be inherently insensitive to external decohering noise. Anyons are described by topological quantum field theories. Michael Freedman’s group Station Q at UCSB specializes in topological (anyonic) quantum computing. John Preskill’s Course 219 has a nice introduction to the subject of topological quantum computing.

Check out:

A landmark proof
by Frank Wilczek (Physics 4, 10 (2011), February 7, 2011)

In this lucid, introductory, viewpoint article, Wilczek explains anyons, and he trumpets a recent paper by Parsa Bonderson, Victor Gurarie, and Chetan Nayak which “proves” something that had been hypothesized for a long time, but had eluded proof until now, that systems exhibiting the fractional quantum Hall effect can be used to produce non-abelian anyons. The “proof” is a physicist’s proof, and, as such, contains a lot of new computational methods that are bound to help scientists calculate things about such systems that nobody knew how to calculate before. The last sentence of Wilczek’s article is:

Now we eagerly await the next great step: experimental confirmation.

My main specialty in the QC field is quantum computer programming. I try to write QC programs in a platform-independent way; i.e, a way that is independent of which particular qubit realization eventually wins the grand race for a scalable QC. Whether that be anyons or any of the many other realizations currently being tried. Nevertheless, I am always excited to learn about theory and experiments for any particular realization, such as anyons.

I hope trumpeting the connection between quantum computing and topological quantum field theories will help to attract high energy and solid state physicists into the QC field.



  1. why is “proof” in quotation marks? is it not really a proof?

    Comment by Joshua Vogelstein — February 19, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

  2. Hi Joshua,
    Since I’m a physicist, it looks perfectly rigorous to me. However, since it’s not written in the Theorem blah blah proof: blah blah QED style, some mathematicians might dislike its format.

    Comment by rrtucci — February 19, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

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