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Postdoctoral Interview with Yuxuan Zhang

Mengning Geng

Bio: Yuxuan Zhang, CQIQC PDF with an appointment at the Physics Department and the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, works with Professors Yong-Baek Kim and Juan Carrasquilla and has broad interests in quantum computing, condensed matter physics and machine learning.

Yuxuan completed his early education in his hometown, Tangshan, and earned a B.S. in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. He spent a year at the Institute of High Energy Physics working with fundamental particles before moving on to The University of Texas at Austin, where Scott Aaronson and Andrew Potter mentored him through his Ph.D. studies.

Yuxuan is a part-time poet, amateur pianist, and unprofessional photographer.

CQIQC: Can you tell us about your particular area of expertise: roughly what it entails?

YZ: Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has been seeking answers to the question of what the world is made of and how it functions. Ancient Greeks and Chinese took more or less philosophical approaches and after the Renaissance, we developed experimental-based modern science. For the majority of time, we believed that the universe was a delicate, seemingly random, yet ultimately deterministic craftwork.

A century ago, physicists like Planck, Einstein, and Born began to challenge this belief, which led to the foundational work of quantum physics. It turns out that the reality is that even if you know every bit of information of an object, you still wouldn’t be able to predict its motion deterministically. In a sense, a coin can be in the superposition of heads and tails!

Quantum effects are delicate, and this is why quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive. It would become crucial in atom scales from material science to speeding up computations. It is vital for us to understand quantum physics in order to harness the power of nature.

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