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Tensor networks initiative to boost promising approach

Perimeter Institute announces its Tensor Networks Initiative, aimed at supporting a new research approach with utility across a number of areas.

Perimeter Institute is building a node of world-leading expertise in tensor networks – a new approach used in condensed matter physics, quantum information, and other fields.

In announcing the program, Perimeter Director Neil Turok said, “The idea is to support path-breaking efforts to addressing key scientific questions. Tensor networks are a powerful new means to understand quantum entanglement, which is increasingly emerging as a common theme connecting information, condensed matter, and gravity. As such, it’s an approach that touches nearly every area of research at Perimeter. Tensor networks hold great promise as a means to understand nature on its own quantum terms. Tensor network states are also expected to play a central role in the development of new quantum technologies.”

The initiative will be led by Perimeter Faculty member Guifre Vidal, a pioneer in the area, who explained, “Tensor networks are a new language for describing the behaviour of quantum many-body systems. When we talk about quantum systems, we talk about systems made up of extremely tiny particles. Large numbers of interacting quantum systems behave collectively in very exotic ways. Some of these exotic collective states have potentially useful properties, for instance, to build a quantum computer. Tensor networks provide powerful numerical approaches that we can use to characterize and ultimately understand these systems.”

By using tensor networks to solve specific many-body problems in physics, researchers can better investigate emergence, the process by which a system becomes more than the sum of its pieces – just as individual water molecules ultimately form complex waves in the ocean.

Other researchers involved include Bianca DittrichZheng-Cheng Gu, and Roger Melko, who study tensor networks and their applications in areas spanning quantum information, quantum gravity, and high energy and condensed matter physics.

The program, projected to run for five years, will bring Distinguished Visiting Research Chairs and Visiting Fellows from around the world to collaborate with resident scientists at Perimeter. Several postdoctoral researchers will also be hired in the area. Regular workshops and summer schools will be held to share results within the group and with the wider scientific community.

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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Mike Brown
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