| Dave Bacon
Assistant Research Professor
Brief Academic Bio
|May, 1975||Born on a lunar eclipse in Yreka, CA.|
Dave Bacon received his B.S. in physics and in literature with honors from the California Institute of Technology in 1997 and his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. His advisor was K. Birgitta Whaley from the Department of Chemistry. After his Ph.D. he did a postdoc at the Institute for Quantum Information at Caltech from 2001-2004, and then a brief postdoc at the Santa Fe Institute during 2004-2005 after which he joined the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington as a Principal Research Scientist. In 2006, he started his current appointment which is as a Assistant Research Professor in the department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. In 2007 he acquired an Adjunct Assistant Research Professor appointment in the Department of Physics at the University of Washington. In 2011 he left the ivory tower of academia and became a software developer for Google.
Keywords: Quantum computing, quantum error correction, quantum algorithms, simulation of quantum systems, simulation of quantum entanglement, self-correcting quantum systems, adiabatic quantum computation, the hidden subgroup problem.
Since our most fundamental theories of physics obey the laws of quantum theory, our most fundamental theories of computation should similarly obey the laws of quantum theory. This realization led Peter Shor to the discovery that a computer operating according to quantum principles could efficiently factor numbers, whereas it is widely believed that classical computers cannot factor efficiently. This discovery was startling since the difficulty of factoring numbers on a classical computer lies at the heart of most modern cryptosystems. A quantum computer, if built, would render this modern cryptography useless. My research interests lie broadly across the field spawned by Shor's discovery, the field of quantum information science. I focus on the two of the most important challenges facing this field: "how" to build a quantum computer and "what" to do with a quantum computer once it is built.
My research on "how" to build a quantum computer has focused on an approach called natural fault-tolerant quantum computation. A main difficulty in building a quantum computer is the fragile nature of quantum information. The theory of fault-tolerant quantum computation has been built to deal with this problem. However this solution is in many ways ad hoc and will be physically difficult to implement. In natural fault-tolerance the idea is to engineer a physical system whose physics guarantees that quantum data can be stored and processed in a robust fashion. My research on "what" quantum computers can do has focused on expanding the theory of quantum algorithms. One manner of understanding where quantum computers get their power is to note that quantum computers can exploit the symmetries of problems in a very natural manner, whereas classical computers cannot. My research here has focused on expanding the set of tools which allow quantum algorithms to exploit symmetries.
Broadly I am also interested in the question of what computer science can contribute back to theoretical physics. In this area my research has focused on attempting to understand the possible manners in which quantum theory could arise from some more fundamental theory of nature.