QStart conference in Jerusalem, June 24-27


Friend-of-the-blog Dorit Aharonov asked me to advertise the QStart Conference, which will be held at Hebrew University of Jerusalem June 24-27 of this year, to celebrate the opening of Hebrew University’s new Quantum Information Science Center.  Speakers include Yakir Aharonov, Jacob Bekenstein, Hans Briegel, Ed Farhi, Patrick Hayden, Ray Laflamme, Elon Lindenstrauss, Alex Lubotzky, John Martinis, Barbara Terhal, Umesh Vazirani, Stephanie Wehner, Andrew Yao … and me, your humble blogger (who will actually be there with Lily, on her first trip abroad—or for that matter, beyond the Boston metropolitan area).  Dorit tells me that the conference should be of interest to mathematicians, physicists, chemists, philosophers, and computer scientists; that registration is open now; and that student travel support is available.  Oh, and if you’re one of the people who think quantum computing is bunk?  As displayed on the poster above, leading QC skeptic Gil Kalai is a co-organizer of the conference.

18 Responses to “QStart conference in Jerusalem, June 24-27”

  1. QSTART | Combinatorics and more Says:

    […] Update: The news of our conference have made it to a big-league blog. […]

  2. Gil Says:

    Scott, what does precisely “bunk” mean? Google translate gave me ” אם אתה אחד מהאנשים שחושבים שמחשוב הקוונטים הוא דרגש ” and this is not so meaningful.

  3. Rahul Says:


    I’d translate bunk to “bogus” or “fraud” or “bullshit”……

  4. Gil Kalai Says:

    Dear Scott, many thanks for devoting a post to our conference. I think that it is going to be a great event and I encourage everybody to come. This can also be a great opportunity for touring Jerusalem and Israel. The description of the conference reads: “Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Foundations’ views on quantum information” and it is centered around, as our new center, quantum information and quantum computation. The list of speakers is a very nice mixture of researchers in quantum computing/information from physics and from computer science, researchers in experimental physics related to the quantum computing endeavor, physicists who study foundational questions is quantum physics, and mathematicians who study related mathematical topics.

    In spite of me being an organizer, the cozy skeptical angle to quantum computing will not be represented (by speakers) this time. I don’t think that people who think that quantum computing is nonsense will have much interest in the conference. (I myself certainly don’t regard quantum computing as nonsense.) But if you are an interested devoted non-believer (or, in other words, if you are either Robert Alicki or me,) you may find the event interesting albeit not geared towards your particular peculiar disbelief.

  5. Henning Dekant Says:

    Gil, as someone of the more disbelieving persuasion, I would like to ask you a question: I was wondering if you see a general overlap between quantum computing and quantum cryptography disbelieve.

    I.e. if somebody thinks the former is bunk do they tend to think the same about the latter and/or vice versa?

    Would you agree with my impression that quantum cryptography seems to be less controversial?

    Although, it certainly still faces its occasional challenges.

    E.g. I recently blogged about my puzzlement with regards to a cryptographic scheme, that did not use quantum resources but claimed to achieve the same level of physical security, and now Charles Bennet published a paper demolishing this claim.

  6. Scott Says:

    Henning #5: Well, one obvious difference between the two is that you can now buy devices that implement BB84, more-or-less exactly as the theory describes it! So then the ground shifts: you can’t claim that it’s science fiction; you have to claim that the actual devices that actually exist are insecure. But then people can respond the same way they might respond to claims of insecurity of any other deployed cryptosystem: “demonstrate your attack experimentally, or you’re just blowing hot air.”

  7. Rahul Says:

    Quantum Cryptography seems real enough and I’d love to see the day when Quantum Computing gets where Quantum Cryptography is right now.

    Problem with Quantum Cryptography is that it is somewhat a solution in search of a problem. I really don’t see a spike in the market for quantum key distribution.

  8. Henning Dekant Says:

    Scott #6: In the context of the Kish Cypher debate, I was thinking more along the line of an argument that goes like this: “Sure Quantum Cryptography kind of works, but it uses a sledgehammer to thread a needle, and thermodynamic resources can be exploited in a manner to attain a secure channel with more robust means.”

    It’ll prepare the ground for a future switch and bait argument (Joy Christian may like that one): “Well, yes QC kinda works but really they are just exploiting a topographic property that could be implemented in more robust manners.”

    So, I guess in a sense I am suggesting two very different classes of sceptics, those that don’t allow for the QIS schemes to work in the first place, and those that don’t deny their existence/potential, but don’t allow for the peculiarities of QM to be the crucial ingredients because of X (where X can be any sort of theoretical argument).

  9. Henning Dekant Says:

    Rereading my first comment I realize that it is rather in-artfully formulated, making it sound that I self-identify as a sceptic. Rather I wanted to address Gil, and reconfirm that he is sceptical with regards to QC, because I am interested to understand the various sceptical stances.

    After all, there are still quite a few, pretty smart people holding out, being sceptical. I think it’ll be instructive to understand where they are coming from (somehow I doubt it’s all because of Joy’s insights).

  10. Dave Bacon Says:

    Barbara Terhal gets to speak twice? Awesome 🙂

  11. Gil Kalai Says:

    Hi Henning, I feel a little awkward that my stance on the feasibility of quantum computers is discussed in the context of the conference I am organizing. Anyway, indeed a short summary of my position is that I don’t think that quantum computers are realistic and I think that understanding why they are not realistic is an important issue in quantum physics.

    Quantum cryptography looks very reasonable. I did not study myself the attempts to attack it, the attempt to build “analog classical chiper” that mimics with classical devices some properties of quantum chipers, and certainly not the commercial implementation.

  12. Scott Says:

    Dabacon #10: Thanks, fixed.

  13. jonas Says:

    Technically, with a modern electronic device as a quantum crypto box, it’s practically very difficult to verify that it’s indeed working as documented. For this reason, it’s possible that a manufacturer sells a box doing some classical cryptographical algorithm, disguised as a quantum crypto box for marketing reasons. If this was done cleverly, you likely couldn’t prove that it’s not performing quantum cryptography, and you also couldn’t demonstrate a successful attack against it. In fact, if an honest manufacturer sells real quantum crypto boxes, he would do better to make the box apply a classical cipher to the data before applying the quantum crypto, because this reduces risk of attacks in case there turns out to be some unknown flaw in the quantum part.

  14. Scott Says:


      it’s possible that a manufacturer sells a box doing some classical cryptographical algorithm, disguised as a quantum crypto box for marketing reasons. If this was done cleverly, you likely couldn’t prove that it’s not performing quantum cryptography, and you also couldn’t demonstrate a successful attack against it.

    It’s precisely because of worries like the above that we now have device-independent quantum cryptography. The problem was noticed, and (quite recently) solved!

  15. jonas Says:

    Re #14 Scott: it’s nice to hear that. Thanks for the link.

  16. Henning Dekant Says:

    Gil, didn’t mean to put you on the spot 🙂

    Was just curious.

  17. John Says:

    I plan to go there too. Will most certainly be interesting.

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