From Quantum Computing to Black Holes and Quantum Gravity: Simons Investigator Alexei Kitaev

The 2017 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize winner shifts his research to questions about black holes and quantum gravity.

Alexei Kitaev Courtesy of Cal Tech

Simons Investigator Alexei Kitaev’s work has decisively influenced many areas of quantum and condensed-matter physics. Kitaev is Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology and has been a Simons Investigator since 2015. He was awarded a MacArthur ‘genius’ fellowship in 2008, a Fundamental Physics Prize in 2012, the Dirac Medal in 2015 and the 2017 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize, which he shares with Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Xiao-Gang Wen.

Kitaev’s most widely known work — for which he was awarded the Buckley Prize — is credited with kick-starting the field of topological quantum computation. A topological property is a global feature of a surface or space that is not changed by smooth deformations. For example, if you have a sheet of dough with holes in it, the number of holes does not change if you bend or twist the dough without tearing or breaking it.

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