Quantum computation holds the promise of fast computing and breakthrough decryption of sensitive information. An SFI working group in August brings together experts in quantum information to tackle questions at the frontiers of the field.

SFI Professor Cris Moore says the working group will focus on topics “at the intersection of what we can understand physically and what we can do algorithmically.” Those problems, such as quantum cryptography and creating a quantum analog of probabilistically-checkable proofs, “are perfect for SFI because they’re in the overlap between physical properties of quantum systems and their computational complexity and computational power,” Moore says.

Among the questions the group will discuss is the so-called “area law” and whether it applies in the quantum world. In the classical realm, black holes have an area law: Incredibly, the amount of information contained in a black hole depends only on its surface area, not on its volume. The hope is that there is an area law for quantum entanglement, the extent to which the state of one quantum system can depend on another, even when separated – something Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” If a quantum area law holds, theorists could use it to prove that the practical methods physicists use to study quantum materials are accurate.

Most of all, Moore is looking forward to learning a lot. “We’re going to ask a number of people to give, in essence, a short course on the state of the art. The working group format is perfect for that – getting experts in the room and peppering them with questions until we understand what the roadblocks are and how we can make further progress.”