Quantum Bayesian Networks

April 30, 2013

That Lazaridis Sure Can Pick Them Winners

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 8:20 pm

Check out this recent article

BlackBerry CEO says tablets will be useless in five years
, by Roger Cheng
(CNET) April 30, 2013


“BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is not a fan of tablets.

“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” he said to Bloomberg.

We QC aficionados have a soft spot for Lazaridis, cofounder of BlackBerry. We feel sympathy for him. The BlackBerry company, his baby, seems to be sinking inexorably into a black hole. Plus we are grateful to him. The guy is a fervent believer in QCs and has donated something like $300 million of his private fortune to Perimeter and IQC. More recently, just last month. Lazaridis and some friends unveiled a hedge fund that will invest $100 million in QC research companies based in the Waterloo, Ontario area.

Unfortunately, so far, Lazaridis has gotten ZERO QC bang for his buck. See the following previous posts of mine about Perimeter and IQC if you want to laugh and cry

I think one major reason that Lazaridis’ QC dreams are faltering is that he has a terrible nose for sniffing out good leaders for his companies. Furthermore, once it becomes painfully obvious that the leaders he has selected stink, he is glacially slow to replace them.

The above CNET article speaks volumes about his handpicked successor for BlackBerry, Thorsten Heins. Besides Heins, Lazarides’ choices for Perimeter and IQC leaders (namely, Neil Turok, director (for life?) of Perimeter, and Raymond Laflamme, director (for life?) of IQC), also seem to be somewhat amiss. Indeed, after many years of trying, and after spending a deep purse of gold, Perimeter and IQC have contributed virtually nothing to building a quantum computer. They are far behind places like D-Wave, NIST, UCSB, Yale, IBM, Holland. Australia, etc.

I should mention that there are many others who hold a different opinion than mine about the efficacy of Turok and Laflamme. For example, Lubos Motl thinks very highly of the intellectual depth and honesty of Perimeter saints and leaders like Neil Turok and Lee Smolin. Lazaridis should Google up some of Lubos’ opinions about those two.

April 26, 2013

Judea Pearl’s Do-Calculus for Ranchers

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 3:16 am

Check out my new paper

Introduction to Judea Pearl’s Do-Calculus (arXiv:1305.5506)

It’s a purely pedagogical paper with no new results. Its goal is to give a fairly self-contained introduction to Judea Pearl’s Do-Calculus, including proofs of his 3 rules.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, lately I’ve been obsessed with Judea Pearl’s causality theory. Eventually, I want to adapt it to quantum mechanics. I already have some nice ideas about how to do that, but this paper has the much more modest goal of introducing the reader to one of Pearl’s early, landmark papers about causality, R218-B, published in 1995.

This paper of mine is my way of dipping my toes into the strong river of knowledge that is Pearl’s causality theory. In order to understand Pearl’s work better, I forced myself to give a mini-lecture about it to a small group of my local friends. Then I turned those mad ravings into something that resembles the thoughts of a sane person and wrote that up.

While writing this paper, I kept on thinking that the nodes of a Bayesian network resemble cows, a whole herd of them enclosed in several corrals. From this perspective, the d-separation theorem began to make a lot of sense to me as a statement about bovine traffic between the corrals. That’s why I titled this blog post “do-calculus for ranchers” (also for cows, cowhands and rustlers). Okay, my paper mentions the cow analogy only very briefly. It’s mentioned in only one or two sentences in the whole 16 page paper. So you might still enjoy the paper, even if you aren’t too interested in my cow application.

April 13, 2013

Stephen Wolfram Reviews “Quantum Computing Since Democritus”

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 4:51 pm

Oh boy! Stephen Wolfram just posted at Amazon.com the following critique of Scott Aaronson’s new book, “Quantum Computing Since Democritus”. Apparently these two don’t talk to each other ever since Scott wrote a particularly acerbic review of Wolfram’s book, “A New Kind of Science”. I’m reprinting below the entire Wolfram review of Scott’s book:

Reviewer: Stephen Wolfram (April 1, 2013)

Scott Aaronson thinks that he can derive all of physics from just one silly idea from computer science, what is called cellular automata Rule 110 complexity theory. Good luck Mr. Aaronson!

I think Scott Aaronson has delusions of grandeur. Even the title of his book: “A New Kind of Science, Quantum Computing Since Democritus” sounds a bit pretentious to me. Mr. Aaronson thinks he can write a really fat book about everything under the sun and that everyone is going to rush to read every word of it. Good luck Mr. Aaronson!

Mr. Aaronson could have chosen to write a nice slim volume like Hawking’s “A Brief history of Time”, and just like Hawking, he could have had in his hands a runaway bestseller, very popular among housewives and in their book reading clubs. But no! Instead he chose to write a book which is neither fish nor fowl. Too big and technical to be suitable for housewives, and too sketchy to be satisfying to their scientist husbands. I predict that very few people will buy his book, which has the exorbitant price of $35.99 in paperback.

Even though he has only been trained as a theoretical computer scientist (a hopelessly unemployable and unproductive clan not to be confused with that of computer programmers, to which I belong here at Mathematica), Aaronson honestly believes that he invented quantum mechanics for the first time and that he understands it better than the vast majority of physicists, dead or alive, better even than me, an ex-high energy physicist trained at Eton, Oxford, Caltech and Princeton, and better than other towering figures of 20th century physics like Michio Kaku, Max Tegmark, Sean Carroll or Seth Lloyd.

The cover of Aaronson’s book also sucks. Who wants to buy a book with a portrait of Aaronson (coming out of the shower?) on the front cover. I’m sorry if he is a blind Greek philosopher noted for his bad jokes and for long lists of blog comments, but that’s besides the point. The guy is no movie star. Couldn’t he have substituted his portrait by that of a nice, friendly dog, wagging its tail, or one of a buxom blonde lady in a strapless, for example. I mean, honestly, would you have bought “A New Kind of Science” if I had ignored the objections of my publisher and put a portrait of myself, on its front cover as I wanted?[editor’s note: Think George Constanza]

Before buying, I recommend to the reader that he/she wait until the free MOOC version of the book comes out, or until it can be found at yard sales for 50 cents.

April 1, 2013

Thurston Howell the 3rd Wins coveted Scientific Prize

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 12:00 am

You’ve probably heard of the Yuri Milner, Nobel, Fields, Turing, Abel, Wolf, Nevalinna, Polya, Clay, Dirac, Newton, etc., etc., etc. prizes. Recently, some mayor corporations have realized that academics are onto something very good here. They think this prize awarding practice is highly beneficial to society, so they are trying to incorporate it into their own ecosystem. Check out the following exciting news item that I came across today:

Thurston Howell the 3rd Wins coveted Scientific Prize
(Boston Globe- April 1, 2013)

Jet-setting from all corners of the globe, the top 3-dozen executives of mega corporation “Science Are Us” convened today in Boston. They plan to hold tomorrow a lavish celebration during which they will award the coveted Golden Coconut Prize to one of their own, Dr. Thurston Howell the 3rd (TH to his friends).

All conference attendees that we interviewed for this article thought that TH richly deserves the Golden Coconut prize. “TH is so brilliant! He reminds me of myself”, said one conference attendee, a “Science Are Us” executive himself. “TH is the wisest man I know. He gave me my first job at “Science Are Us” “, said another. “TH? That guy is excellent at everything he does. He can do math and physics, sing, dance, act, paint, play all sports, write novels, be a good father and teacher… better than anyone else in the world.” said another. “No one is more generous and altruistic than TH. Paul Farmer? Paul Farmer cannot hold a candle to TH. What has Paul Farmer ever done for me?”, said another.

The conference ended with a surprise announcement that a panel had been empowered to select in 6 months time the winner of a 3 million dollar prize to be given to another of the top executives of “Science Are Us”. The prize will be awarded to the proponent of the craziest untested business theory. Said a “Science Are Us” spokesperson: “A 3 million dollar prize given to one of our already rich top executives is sure to inspire and attract the best sort of young people to come to work for our corporation, and it will be invaluable in helping those insolvent youngsters to follow that path. This prize is for you, that half of the world’s population that earns less than 3 dollars a day. We think that the prospect of someday winning this prize will cheer you up, and induce you to learn more science.”

“Science Are Us” is at the forefront of its scientific field, especially when it comes to procuring federal contracts. It attributes its wild success to its academia-like practices and atmosphere. Just last year, it revolutionized the corporate world by instituting the practice of giving lifetime tenure to all of its top executives. Said a company spokesperson: “By giving tenure to all our top executives, we guarantee unparalleled stability to our company. Investors love us because they hate the uncertainty introduced by changes of personnel. They also like plucky executives that are willing to think out of the box without fear of reprisals by stock holders.”

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