Carnegie Mellon University
April 25, 2011

Press Release: MIT Computer Scientist Scott Aaronson To Present Carnegie Mellon's 2011 Buhl Lecture April 29

Aaronson, founder of, will discuss the possibility of quantum computing

mellon institute

Contact: Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982 /

PITTSBURGH—Scott Aaronson, an expert in the realm of computational complexity theory and the founder of online encyclopedia of computational complexity theory will deliver Carnegie Mellon University's annual Buhl Lecture at 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 29 in the Mellon Institute Auditorium, 4400 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

His lecture, "Quantum Computing and the Limits of the Efficiently Computable," is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a reception in the Mellon Institute Lobby.

Quantum computing, an idea proposed nearly 30 years ago by the famous physicist Richard Feynman and others, exploits the physical properties of particles in the quantum world to solve certain computational problems dramatically faster than today's computers are able to do. While a standard computer obeys the laws of classical physics, a quantum computer adheres to the laws of quantum mechanics — which are significantly different.

During his talk, Aaronson will discuss what quantum computers are, whether they can be built on a large scale, and what's known today about their capabilities and limitations. He'll go beyond quantum computers to touch on speculative models of computation, including closed time-like curves and nonlinearities in the Schrodinger equation — an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time.

An associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aaronson's work on the subject of quantum computing has included limitations of quantum algorithms in the black-box model, the learnability of quantum states, and quantum versus classical proofs and advice. He writes a popular blog (

The Buhl Lecture is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon's Department of Physics. The lecture is funded under the auspices of the Buhl Professorship in Theoretical Physics, which was established at Carnegie Mellon in 1961 by The Buhl Foundation.