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Computer Science Seminar Series: Fall 2017

September 22nd, 2:00 pm; Patrick F. Taylor Hall room 3285


Speaker: Samson Abramsky, Oxford University

Title: Quantum Computation: Harnessing the Atom at the Borders of Paradox


Abstract: Quantum physics is notorious for confounding our intuitions, and predicts phenomena such as ``spooky action at a distance’’ which cannot be accounted for in terms of classical physics, and yet which have been verified experimentally. We are now seeing the rise of quantum technologies, which aim to harness these phenomena to perform tasks which would be impossible classically. In this talk, we will explain some of these ideas without assuming any knowledge of quantum physics! We will see how the phenomenon of quantum contextuality leads us to the very borders of paradox, while enabling Alice and Bob to perform remarkable feats of cooperation which would not be possible without the use of quantum resources.


Biography: Samson Abramsky is Christopher Strachey Professor of Computing and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University. Previously he held chairs at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, and at the University of Edinburgh. He holds MA degrees from Cambridge and Oxford, and a PhD from the University of London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (2004), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2000), a Member of Academia Europaea(1993), and a Fellow of the ACM (2014). His paper ``Domain theory in Logical Form'' won the LiCS Test-of-Time award (a 20-year retrospective) for 1987. The award was presented at LiCS 2007. He was the Clifford Lecturer  at Tulane University in 2008. He was awarded the BCS Lovelace Medal  in 2013. He received the Alonzo Church Award for Outstanding Contributions to Logic and Computation in 2017.

He has played a leading role in the development of game semantics, and its applications to the semantics of programming languages. Other notable contributions include his work on domain theory in logical form, the lazy lambda calculus, strictness analysis, concurrency theory, interaction categories, and geometry of interaction. More recently, he has been working on high-level methods for quantum computation and information. He introduced categorical quantum mechanics with Bob Coecke. He introduced the sheaf-theoretic approach to contextuality and non-locality with Adam Brandenburger, and has contributed extensively to developing a structural theory of contextuality and its applications.