Quantum Bayesian Networks

October 29, 2013

After the Seventh Seal, MOOCs

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 1:00 pm

Here is my customary annual Halloween HORROR story. It’s a story about the soon to arrive doomsday for universities as we know them, and about a plague that will soon be unleashed on university professors.

In the Bible, The Book of Revelation speaks of the end days and of the day of judgement. It predicts that a Lamb will open a book with seven seals. Opening the seventh and last seal will unleash seven plagues.

“And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour”.[Rev. 8:1]

A young Physicist knight was slowly making his way back home from the Crusades.

The Crusades had been very disappointing to him. He had gone there with the intention of having fun pillaging, raping and beheading all science infidels who dared to question the wisdom of building a new particle accelerator, the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem would be a successor to the LHC, aka the Old Jerusalem, which was by now looking pretty frumpy, after failing to find supersymmetry. The New Jerusalem would be built in Japan. Aligning a machine several kilometers long in Japan, earthquake capital of the world? Priceless. However, the public didn’t agree with the young knight, and wanted to spend their tax money on frivolous things like roads and bridges, and biomedical research. Very disappointing.

What awaited the young Physicist knight at home was even worse than the Crusades…His home town was at that time being racked and decimated by an inexorable, ruthless MOOC-Pox Plague.

At the beginning of the story, a college administrator with a pasty white complexion, dressed in a black hooded robe, tells our knight errant that he is next on the list of profs that will be dismissed to make their university more MOOCish. In a desperate bid to prolong his life, our knight initiates a game of chess with the college administrator, for he realizes that the administrator will not want to fire him until after the chess game is concluded. Deep down, our knight knows full well that he will eventually lose the game to the college administrator, for the administrator is a much better chess player. The college administrator has proven before how adept and ruthless a chess player he is, by granting himself multi-million dollar yearly salaries while paying adjunct professor serfs $300 per course.

The college administrator and our knight continue to play this chess game intermittently as our knight gradually makes his way back to his home town.

At some point, the knight errant witnesses a procession of flagellants (i. e., graduate students and postdocs).

Medieval era  flagellants

Medieval era flagellants

Throughout the story, our young knight keeps wondering why is it that God is so absent and silent in our lives. Oops, then he remembers that he doesn’t believe in God. So that question is pretty silly for him to be asking in this movie.


Near the end, our knight knocks down the pieces of the chess game, pretending to do so unintentionally. He then tells the college administrator that he doesn’t remember where the pieces were. The college administrator replies that he has been recording his every move and the game has been filmed by hidden cameras. He quickly restores the pieces to their former positions and wins on the next move. His last move surprises the audience. It consists of moving a rook labeled Feynman Lectures. We then realize that that rook represents a MOOC, put out by Caltech, based on Feynman’s 3 red books and his video-taped lectures. This MOOC will be a killer app, literally. It will make obsolete most university professors that teach the first four semesters of physics.

At the end of the story, we see a “danse macabre”, a human chain of university professors being led by the college administrator over a hill. Presumably, at the other side of the hill, the cruel fate of a non-academic job awaits them.


October 23, 2013

Google Brings Chemistry To The Masses

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 3:46 pm

Google has recently partnered with a leading manufacturer of e-cigarettes to produce the first ever “e-cig mod”. The mod is targeted at those K12 youngsters who, despite their best efforts and burning desire to learn, might have been deprived of an elementary Chemistry education because of the scarcity of good introductory Chemistry resources on the web. The mod includes an attractive, multi-media, educational package explaining the Chemistry of the concoctions that go into e-cigs, plus 7 yummy nicotine additives (chocolate, Fuji apple, Bombay mango, Island coconut, vanilla, cherry, peach) that a budding scientist can experiment with without danger of poisoning him or herself, as they have been thoroughly tested by the nice Google staff, which is so wise and can do no wrong.

A Google spokeswoman said: “e-cigs are phenomenally popular among middle and high school kids. About a third of those kids are already using them. So we believe, aren’t we brilliant, that e-cigs are the best way to introduce those kids to Chemistry, and thereby produce the scientists of the future.”

When asked about Chemistry sets, the spokeswoman said: “Oh, but those are so passé. Besides, they are too dangerous. What if the kid poisons himself or puts an eye out? Do you want to have a little pyromaniac in your hands, one that revels in loud explosions and devastating stink bombs?”

(This blog post was inspired by qCraft, a mod produced by Google and Caltech of a video game called MineCraft that is currently very popular among the K12 crowd. Qcraft is intended to teach little kids quantum mechanics. Spiros posted about qCraft in the Caltech blog Quantum Frontiers. My comment to his blog post elicited quite a few thumbs-down. That’s okay. I call the up-and-down-thumbs widget in blogs, “standing on the shoulders of worms”)

October 19, 2013

Google, a Mecca for proponents of The Multi-verse Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 7:46 pm

I just watched a lowest-of-the-low-brow video, produced by Google, about quantum computers. Nothing but clichés stitched together illogically. The thing must have been produced by someone with the IQ of a potted plant. Its goal seems to be to explain, I know not to whom, maybe to another plant, what is quantum mechanics. To explain how Google will use quantum computers to solve AI, solve global warming, and decide for certain whether we are alone or not in the universe. So this is how plants communicate with each other!

Oh wait! according to this blog post, the producer of this video is Spiros’ talented and handsomely paid female friend. And she and her cohorts are planning to make a video game that uses vague metaphors to confuse the hell out of little kids trying to understand quantum mechanics.

It’s clear from the video that Google, the company that runs the world (or is trying to, in collaboration with the NSA), is convinced that the multi-verse interpretation of quantum mechanics is the only true interpretation, the only true religion, for clearly, as David Deutsch says, the other interpretations totally fail to explain why quantum computers work. After watching the video, I came home with the impression that Google is planning to use its D-Wave quantum computers like a Ouija board to consult the multi-verse and make company decisions based on what the multi-verse tells them.

I’m not an avid fan of the multi-verse interpretation of QM. I expounded on my views about this in a previous blog post:

Don’t Shut Up and Don’t Calculate

Not being a fan of the interpretation, I’m ill informed about its subtleties. (Steve Hsu, a real expert on it, is invited to chime in). But it seems to me that Google’s resident quantum mechanics expert, Hartmut Neven, made a mistake in his slides, which he presented in Spiros’s girlfriend’s video. Hartmut presented the following slide:
It seems to me that this slide is misleading, because if the multi-verse is going to predict anything but noise, a preponderance of universes must agree and predict what we are now seeing. In Hartmut’s slide, all possibilities are clearly not true, especially the one about Hartmut The Physicist. The lobster one is the only one that comes close, as Hartmut seems to spend too much time outdoors and his coloration definitely tends towards the reddish.

I have amended Hartmut’s slide to better represent the multi-verse interpretation.
In my slide you can see that 3 out of the 4 universes agree amongst each other and with what we, in this universe, are observing, and the fourth universe is not too far off.

By the way, my slide was inspired by a famous portrait of Lee Smolin, painted by the artist Lubos Motl. A portrait which has been burned into our collective consciousness. After having seen it just once, it’s hard for anyone to think of Lee Smolin without seeing his face surrounded by a clay pot. Lee Smolin, in case you don’t know, is a role model and poster child of PI (Perimeter Institute) and iQC (Institute for Quantum Computing).

October 12, 2013

Life in the Time of the Bayesian Wars, The Battle of PA Hill

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 11:46 pm

Secret message: Operation Lisbeth is going really well.

In a previous post entitled “Life in the Time of the Bayesian Wars“, I pointed out that “Companies like IBM, Google, Oracle, HP/Autonomy and SAP are in a fierce battle for the supremacy over the Bayesian sea lanes and trade routes to the New World.” and that “quantum computers have the potential to escalate that war significantly.” (I love quoting myself. I always agree with myself completely)

One particular battle in that war, a battle that is now raging at maximum intensity, is the one over personal assistants (PAs). PAs rely on a carefully curated database of facts called a knowledge base (KB). Some of the opening salvos of the Battle of PA Hill were made by Wolfram Research with its KB Wolfram Alpha, by IBM with its PA Watson and by Apple with its PA Siri. Since those initial volleys, the war has escalated. Now two search engine superpowers, Google and Microsoft/Bing, have joined the fray. Search engine (or social network) companies have a great advantage over IBM and other analytics giants, because they are in a better position to leverage the data of web pages plus user queries and personal data. Here is what these two search engine empires call their military operations:

Google Knowledge Graph Android’s Now
Microsoft Bing Satori Cortana

Even though it might appear that Microsoft has just joined the fight, and doesn’t stand a chance against mighty Google, the truth is that MS has been involved in the PA battle longer than any other superpower. Google was founded in 1998, but as far back as 1996, Bill Gates was already telling everyone that someday B nets would be Microsoft’s secret weapon. Microsoft’s initial entry into the field was Clippy :), not the best of starts, although the story is that the B net part of Clippy was removed or badly crippled at the last moment, so Clippy is not a true representative of B net power, thank God. More recent PA attempts by Microsoft like their “Virtual Receptionist” are much more respectable.

Recently, the Redmond giant has uttered some battle cries that must be unnerving to their opponents. Microsoft has been bragging that their KB Satori (which means “understanding” and “enlightenment” in Japanese) and their PA Cortana (named after a holographic AI in the XBox video game Halo), both of which are soon to be unveiled in their full majesty, are more advanced Bayesian weapons, true death stars, than the weapons of their competitors.

Microsoft has faltered frequently and foolishly in the past ten years (with the exception of Kinetic which is pretty cool). Will Satori and Cortana finally take Microsoft out of the doldrums it’s been stuck in for the past decade and save cash hemorrhaging Bing? Or is it all bluster on their part and once again they will end up replaying the bungling role of the Brits in the charge of the light brigade? Stay tuned.

Cortana in video game Halo

Cortana in video game Halo

There are of course many elements to a KB and PA that have nothing to do with Bayesian analysis so some might say that us Bayesians take credit for everything. Okay, but you have to admit that important parts of the analysis done by PAs, either the current ones or the future versions, will be heavily based on Bayesian ideas.

Of course, I think a secret weapon that has the potential to change the outcome of this war is quantum computer AI. We’ll see.

Check out this nice war reportage from the front lines:

Microsoft’s Answer To Siri: Cortana, by Michael Endler (InformationWeek.com, September 13, 2013)


Cortana anticipation has been building again in recent days, after several purported Windows 8.1 images leaked online. Citing an inside source, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley subsequently reported that Microsoft is indeed readying a digital assistant technology, but that it will involve more than smartphones; rather, it will be a “shell” that harnesses the cloud to personalize and unify user experiences across Microsoft devices and services.

Apple’s Siri already follows voice commands and intelligently aggregates information in response to certain user queries. Android’s Google Now goes a step further in some ways; if the user chooses, it will scan emails, calendars and other data in order to learn more about the user and anticipate his or her needs. Cortana reportedly aims to outdo both competitors thanks to Microsoft’s Satori technology, which is currently used in Bing.

Bing senior developer Stefan Weitz added fuel to the fire in late July, telling CNET that Siri and Google Now “have a fairly shallow understanding of the world,” and that Microsoft will not ship a competitor until it can disrupt the market. “We could come out with something like [Siri and Google Now], but it wouldn’t be state of the art,” he said, noting that Satori’s brain is powered by more than 50,000 nodes in Microsoft’s cloud.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also have chimed in with hints. In the memo that announced the “one Microsoft” restructuring plan, Ballmer wrote that the company’s technology “will understand people’s needs and what is available in the world, and will provide information and assistance.” He said Microsoft services will anticipate each user’s daily needs and provide insight when it’s needed.

Other great war reportage:

October 2, 2013

Blatantly Dishonest Paper by Masahiro Takeoka, Saikat Guha, Mark M. Wilde

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 8:33 pm

Check out

The squashed entanglement of a quantum channel
(http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.0129) by Masahiro Takeoka (1,2), Saikat Guha (2), and Mark M. Wilde (3)

  1. National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 4-2-1 Nukuikita, Koganei, Tokyo 184-8795, Japan
  2. Quantum Information Processing Group, Raytheon BBN Technologies, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
  3. Hearne Institute for Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Center for Computation and Technology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA

This is one in a long series of papers that lie about the origins of Squashed Entanglement. The paper attributes the invention of squashed entanglement to Christandl and Winter. This is an outright lie, as one can easily establish by consulting arXiv.

As the Wikipedia article on squashed entanglement clearly documents, giving pertinent arXiv references, I had submitted to arXiv about 5 papers on squashed entanglement, giving the EXACT modern definition, and I had even written a C++ computer program to calculate it, about 3 years before Christandl-Winter wrote their first paper on it. (although I didn’t call it squashed entanglement, I just called it a generalization of the definition given by Bennett, et al. of entanglement of formation for mixed states, not a very catchy name I must admit, although I don’t think the name squashed entanglement is much of an improvement). I had also sent email to Winter pointing out my papers to him before he wrote his paper with Christandl about squashed entanglement.

It seems that Masahiro Takeoka, Saikat Guha, Mark M. Wilde are doing this to hurt me because they are dumb, unethical, nasty thugs. They are too dumb to realize that their paper in no way detracts from my work. All their paper does is to hurt their own reputation, by giving tangible evidence that they are dishonest scientists and immoral people. And now that this paper is on arXiv, this evidence will follow them for eternity. The duration of the punishment is extremely harsh, but it’s not my fault. Blame Paul Ginsparg, main arXiv inventor (?), for it 🙂

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